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A shot at redemption
CV boys plan to rebound from last seasons failure
Angel Lopez and Central Valleys varsity boys soccer team are determined to make up for last seasons disappointment this winter. The Hawks had their streak of consecutive playoff appearances snapped at eight years in 2015. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Not accustomed to losing, Omar Leon considered stepping down as head coach of Central Valley's varsity boys soccer program following the 2015 campaign.

The four-time section-runner-up Hawks had their streak of consecutive playoff appearances snapped at eight seasons.

Central Valley won six straight conference titles from 2008-13.

"Nobody is forcing me to do it," said Leon, leader of the Hawks since 2007. "I do it because it's for the benefit of the kids. I'm trying to make a difference in their lives. I love coaching. I miss it when I'm not out there doing it."

Central Valley plans to re-establish its excellence under Leon's leadership this winter.

"Based on last year, there's only one way to go," Leon said. "And that's up. It's possible to have another solid team. I see better attitude, commitment and talent. We have to put everything together."

Central Valley's top returning players are Angel Lopez (Sr.), Andres Velasquez (Sr.), Christian Gonzalez (Sr.), Jacob Guerrero (Sr.), David Montanez (Sr.), Jonathan Garcia (Jr.) and Axel Bautista (So.).

Lopez was selected to the Western Athletic Conference Second Team as a sophomore.

He collected five goals and two assists.

A standout kicker in football, Angel was named the WAC's Outstanding Special Teams Player this past fall. He led the conference in kick scoring (20), point-after-touchdown kicks (20), touchbacks (13) and field goals made (four). Lopez booted field goals of 47, 41, 30 and 28 yards.

The Hawks' top newcomers are Adrian Espinoza (Sr.), Gilberto Flores (So.), Gerardo Flores (So.), Victor Torres (So.), Roberto Pelayo (So.) and Isaac Juarez (Fr.).

Gilberto, Gerardo, and Victor contributed at the junior-varsity level a season ago.

"Overall, I got a good feeling," Leon said. "Everybody is committed. There's good chemistry. We're headed in the right direction."

Central Valley just missed securing a playoff berth a year ago.

The Hawks closed out the Western Athletic Conference regular season with a 13-2 win over Los Banos.

Ceres High's 1-0 upset of Pacheco eliminated Central Valley from postseason contention.

The Bulldogs (6-6-0, 18 points) were awarded the WAC's fourth and final playoff berth.

Central Valley (5-7-0, 15 points) placed fifth.

"Central Valley is known for soccer," Leon said. "We didn't perform at the level we're used to playing at last year. We underestimated a lot of teams. Hopefully, the mentality changes. Our league is going to be very competitive again. I have to find ways to motivate the kids."