The decision was easy when selecting the Courier’s Team of the Year for the winter sports season.
Central Valley’s varsity boys soccer team deserves recognition for continuing its run of excellence.
The Hawks advanced to the section finals for the seventh time, secured their eighth league title and participated in the playoffs for the 12th time in the program’s 15-year history.
“They were a great group to coach,” Central Valley leader Omar Leon said. “Work ethic. Commitment. We had a good combination of returning and new players. Everything was there. We had a great season. I’m proud of the kids.”
The Hawks reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II title game for the second year in a row, posted a 20-5-3 overall record and claimed their second consecutive Central California Conference crown (9-1-2) this winter.
Central Valley placed first at the Lancer Cup in Manteca.
The Hawks also had unbeaten streaks of 14 and nine games during the course of the season.
“To make it to two section finals in a row is hard. I’m not surprised. I knew this team had talent."Erick Martinez Stucchi
“What we did was not easy,” senior goalkeeper Erick Martinez Stucchi said. “To make it to two section finals in a row is hard. I’m not surprised. I knew this team had talent. Our chemistry on and off the field was very strong. Everybody got along. We had trust in each other. That was an advantage.”
The Hawks outscored their opponents 79-29, including 35-8 in league play.
Six of Central Valley’s 11 starters received all-conference accolades, including Most Valuable Player Isaac Juarez, Defender of the Year Jorge Iniguez, first-team selections Martinez Stucchi, Jesus Yepez and Sebastian Castillo, and second-team honorees Cesar Grajeda Burgos and Marcos Covarrubias.
“Overall, I’m proud of the team,” Juarez said. “Our dedication and determination helped get us to where we’re at. We played with a lot of heart. We built a brother bond. We had each other’s backs.”