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Hawk leader misses game
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Star midfielder Ozzie Ramos' eyes welled up as he sat on the end of the bench following the Central Valley High School varsity boys soccer team's 1-0 win over top-seeded Manteca in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs on Nov. 7.

The victory over the Buffaloes was bittersweet for Ramos, who decided to cut his junior season short to compete in a college showcase tournament in New Jersey.

"It was a difficult choice," said Ramos, a 4.0 student, who got perfect scores on both sections of the California High School Exit Exam. "It took me a few weeks to decide. There's going to be a lot of scouts over there. I'm trying to get a head start."

"He's been training all his life for this opportunity," Central Valley head coach Omar Leon said. "I respect his decision. If he would have told me at the last minute, I would have been upset."

Ramos' leadership was sorely missed during Central Valley's 2-0 loss to River Valley in the section finals on Saturday at Lincoln High School in Stockton.

"Everybody was nervous before the game because Ozzie wasn't here," Hawks junior striker Omar Orozco said. "He's a great player. He controls the middle. We needed him for this game. I'm not upset. He had a better opportunity."

Ozzie, the Western Athletic Conference MVP, tallied a team-leading 22 goals and 14 assists for Central Valley this year.

He played a major role while leading the Hawks to their fifth straight league title and sixth consecutive playoff berth.

"Ozzie offers a lot," Leon said. "He's one of the best midfielders we have. He sets the tone of the game."

The Maryland-based nationally-ranked under-16 ASA Milan Black Hawks accumulated one win, three losses and one draw at the Mid-Atlantic Premier Soccer Cup fall tournament this past weekend.

"My teammates didn't want me to go," Ramos said. "I want to be there to support them but sometimes you have to take your own path."

In 2009, Central Valley competed shorthanded against Ceres High in the Division-IV section championship game. Hawk standout Larry Hernandez opted to play for his travel team the same day. The Hawks lost 2-0 to the Bulldogs.