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Central Valley’s boys soccer team tops Franklin 3-1 in playoffs
Victor Macias and Central Valley’s boys
Victor Macias and Central Valley’s boys soccer team defeated Franklin of Elk Grove 3-1 in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs on Friday at Johansen High School. - photo by Dale Butler

Central Valley’s boys soccer team had extra motivation heading into the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoff tournament this past week.

The Hawks should have received a more favorable draw according to head coach Horatio Garcia.

Central Valley won 20 games and claimed the Central California Conference championship during the regular season.

“Everyone on the team has the same feeling,” Garcia said. “To be honest, we felt a little disrespected. Based on the competition we faced during the regular season and how we did, it was very surprising to me we didn’t get a better ranking. I thought we’d land somewhere between 4-6. We deserved better.”

Eighth-seeded Central Valley topped ninth-seeded Franklin of Elk Grove 3-1 in the playoffs Friday evening at Johansen High School.

The Wildcats tried to frustrate the Hawks with physicality but it didn’t work.

“We needed everybody to stay focused for the entire 80 minutes. We knew it was going to be a battle. The other team was very physical from the start. We were ready.”

The Hawks improved to 21-6-1 on the season. Central Valley claimed the CCC title with a near-perfect 11-1-0 record.

The Wildcats amassed a 9-9-5 overall record and finished in fifth place in the Delta League with a 4-5-3 mark.

“In order to be section champions, you have to beat four other teams."

Gilbert Zamora III, Alexis Cervantes and Yahir Perez all scored one goal for the Hawks.

Central Valley’s Julio Larranaga collected one assist.

Hawk goalkeeper Jesus Silva totaled five saves. 

“His (Silva’s) decision making was very good. He was very focused.”

Cervantes accounted for what proved to be the winning goal. The senior striker’s left-footed shot extended Central Valley’s lead to 2-0 with 55 minutes to play.

“His finishing was spectacular. He didn’t waste his opportunity. I’m happy for him.”

Cervantes missed the previous five games with a knee injury. He was sidelined for 20 days.

“The injury could have been serious. At first, we thought it could be an MCL or ACL.”

Neither team scored during the opening 60 minutes of the game.

Central Valley took control after one of Franklin’s players was relegated to the bench in second second half after being assessed a red card.

The Wildcats cut the deficit to 2-1 with less than five minutes to play.

Perez dashed Franklin’s comeback hopes by adding a goal three minutes later. “Playing a man up definitely helped,” Garcia said. “We would have scored eventually. We were relentless in our attack. We created a lot of opportunities. We never gave up.”

“My kids are in great shape. The other team slowly started to decrease in how much they worked on the field.”

Central Valley was supposed to host the playoff game on campus but it was moved to Modesto due to poor field conditions as a result of rainy weather.

“I was very happy our game got moved The turf and playing conditions were perfect. The way that we play, it (turf) helps us play to our strength. We like to keep the ball on the ground.”

Johansen’s football stadium also has more seating for fans.

“I think that’s the biggest crowd I’ve seen for one of our games."

A total of 16 teams made up the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoff bracket. Local schools Enochs, Gregori, Pitman, Edison of Stockton and Lincoln of Lincoln all lost in the opening round.

“We’re the only team left from this area. The remaining schools are from Sacramento.”

Central Valley will face top-seeded Jesuit (18-1-2, 10-1-1) in the quarterfinals this week. The Delta League champion Marauders are ranked 19th in the nation, fourth in California and first in the Sac-Joaquin Section according to

“It’s an opportunity to showcase our talent and prove we were ranked incorrectly. I know it’s a big challenge. But if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

Anantah Sivongxay
Anantah Sivongxay and the Hawks earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the Wildcats. - photo by Dale Butler