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CV soccer team hit hard by graduation
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A year ago at this time, Central Valley High School coach Omar Leon assembled what turned out to be one of the most entertaining boys soccer teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

In just their second year of existence, the Hawks qualified for the Division IV playoffs after placing second in the Valley Oak League standings with a 9-2-1 record. Central Valley posted six shutouts in its final eight conference games.

"We had a lot of heart," first-team VOL honoree Jose Ramirez said.

Only a handful of key players return this year, including Ramirez (sophomore), Juan Pacheco (junior), Javier Alcantar (senior), Ricardo Reynoso (senior), Francisco Aguirre (senior) and Jaime Mendoza (senior).

"We have talent but we have no team chemistry yet because most of us haven't played together," Reynoso said.

Approximately 13 members graduated, including Isidro Aguilera, David Barraza, Abimael Galindo, Jose Haro, Jesus Larios, Marvin Lopez, Rosendo Mendoza, Ernesto Plancarte, Marco Rodriguez, Freddy Rodriguez, Eddy Salinas, Armando Villa and Diego Zepeda.

Salinas (goakeeper), Zepeda (defender) and Marco Rodriguez (midfielder) made the VOL first team.

Standout junior midfielder Pedro Gomez moved to Puebla, Mexico to chase his dream of playing professional soccer. The VOL second-team selection would have been a junior.

"It was basically all seniors last year," Ramirez said. "Skill-wise, we're not going to be that different. I think we'll do very well, especially with the new players that we have."

Twins Billy and Bobby Chantavong (juniors), and Antonio Cabrera (junior), Gerardo Cazarez (sophomore), Larry Hernandez (sophomore) and Daniel Ochoa (freshman) will be counted on to contribute.

Asked if Central Valley would make a return trip to the playoffs, Ramirez said: "It's not going to be easy. We're going to have to work hard at practice."

The top two teams in the Valley Oak League receive post-season berths. Jose scored a goal in Central Valley's 3-2 playoff loss to host El Dorado in 2007.

"Our objective is to improve on what we did last year," Leon said.