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Central Valley still unbeaten in conference play
Daniel Ochoa couldn't be stopped during the Central Valley High School varsity boys soccer team's Western Athletic Conference battle with host Patterson last week.

The junior striker scored his 18th, 19th and 20th goals of the season while leading the Hawks to a 3-2 victory over the Tigers on Monday, Oct. 11.

"He's very fast, strong and smart," Central Valley head coach Omar Leon said. "He's a complete striker. He has a lot of talent."

The first-place Hawks improved to 6-0-1 in the WAC standings.

The fourth-place Tigers dropped to 3-3-0 in conference play.

Central Valley won back-to-back titles while competing in the Valley Oak League the previous two years.

"We knew from the beginning the competition level was going to be higher," said Leon, whose team has accumulated three one-goal victories and a tie in league this season. "I'm very pleased with how the guys have performed."

The Hawks held a two-goal lead until the final minutes against the Tigers during the rematch, which was held on synthetic turf at the Patterson Community Stadium.

"They have a perfect field for our style of play," Leon said. "We try to play the ball on the ground as much as possible."

Midway through the first half, Ochoa blasted an 18-yard shot past Tiger goalkeeper Adrian Gonzalez.

Daniel scored on a close-range header and 20-yard shot from the middle of the field after intermission.

Gerardo Cazares and Samuel Martinez both had one assist.

Ahead 3-1, Leon rested two of his starting defenders.

"I made a couple of substitutions and Patterson scored with a couple of minutes left," Leon said. "It should have been 3-1."

Slowed by a knee injury, Central Valley star attacking midfielder Jose Ramirez logged just 10 minutes of playing time against Patterson.

"We have very difficult games coming up," Leon said. "We want him to be 100 percent."

The Hawks' final three opponents are Central Catholic (Wednesday), Los Banos (Monday, Oct. 25) and Ceres High (Oct. 27).

Central Valley is closing in on its fourth consecutive playoff berth. The Hawks might also win their third straight conference title.

Ramirez, Ochoa, Cazares and Larry Hernandez have all played major roles.

"The returning players know the system and what the expectations are," Leon said. "They serve as role models. The other players look up to them and listen to them."