Former Central Valley High School varsity boys soccer teammates Andres Velasquez and Gerardo Flores are both enjoying success at the college level this fall.
Velasquez (UC Davis) and Flores (Cal State San Bernardino) celebrated with their respective teams on Monday following the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament Selection Shows.
Velasquez and the Aggies earned the No. 14 seed and a first-round bye for the Division-I Tournament.
Flores and the Coyotes were awarded a No. 5 seed and a bye in the opening round for Division-II.
“Everything I imagined is happening,” said Velasquez, a red-shirt sophomore who starts at center defensive midfielder. “It’s like I’m living a dream.”
“It’s a big achievement,” said Flores, a freshman reserve forward. “All of our players and coaches are happy. Being in this situation is a good experience for me, my teammates and the school.”
Velasquez and UC Davis (13-4-2) received an automatic bid for this year’s NCAA Tournament after winning the Big West Conference Tournament title for the first time on Friday at home.
Velasquez broke a scoreless tie 10 minutes into the second half as the Aggies pulled away for a 2-0 victory against UC Santa Barbara in front of 1,309 spectators.
“After the game, I watched a replay of my goal 30 times. It felt like a dream. It was unreal. Our fans are literally like our 12th player. When we hear them scream, it motivates us.”Andres Velasquez
“After the game, I watched a replay of my goal 30 times,” he said. “It felt like a dream. It was unreal. Our fans are literally like our 12th player. When we hear them scream, it motivates us.”
Flores and San Bernardino (12-3-3) received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tourney. The Coyotes reached the semifinals of the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
Flores was named CCAA Player of the Week on Oct. 15 after he scored five goals in two games. He became just the second male soccer player from San Bernardino to register a hat trick in the past nine years.
“I’ve been contributing a lot the past couple of games,” he said.
UC Davis and San Bernardino last participated in the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
Velasquez and the Aggies will host the winner of Thursday’s South Florida/Louisville game on Sunday.
UC Davis has a 7-0-1 record on its home field this season.
“It’s exciting,” Velasquez said. “If we win that game, we’re in the quarterfinals. We put ourselves in such a good spot. We’ve proven we can play with any team in the country. I think we can win it all.”
Flores and fifth-seeded San Bernardino will face fourth-seeded Cal Poly Pomona in a Super Region 4 second-round matchup this Saturday on the road.
Flores and the Coyotes will try to avenge a 3-2 CCAA loss.
“Everyone is focused,” he said. “We know what we’re capable of. We’ll be ready to compete. There’s even more to achieve.”
Velasquez was a senior in high school and Flores was a sophomore when they helped lead Central Valley to a 20-7-3 overall record and surprising berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III championship game in 2017.
Velasquez, Flores and the Hawks upset No. 1 East Union and No. 4 Rio Americano on their way to the finals.
The duo also played one season of club soccer together with Milan Forza.
“He’s one of my mentors and good friends,” Flores said. “I was actually just talking with him. I congratulated him. It makes me happy seeing him succeed like that. I’ve seen the work he’s put in. This is what we trained for.”