Central Valley High School’s varsity boys soccer team suffered devastation yet again on the biggest stage.
The top-seeded Hawks fell 3-2 via penalty kicks to No. 2 Bella Vista in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II title game Thursday night at Liberty Ranch High School in Galt.
Central Valley lost in the section finals for the second time in three years and has an all-time record of 0-6 in championship tilts.
“After being there so many times and walking out of there in the same fashion, I don’t have the answer you want to hear,” Hawks’ longtime head coach Omar Leon said. “I don’t have any excuses. I can’t be mad. We did everything humanly right. We played well. We created more scoring opportunities. I’m pleased with the overall performance but not the final result.”
“Everybody’s devastated. We didn’t want to lose. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the win. It wasn’t our night. ”Gerardo Flores
“Everybody’s devastated,” Central Valley senior striker Gerardo Flores said. “We didn’t want to lose. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the win. It wasn’t our night. We accept it and move forward. We have to keep our heads up. Our season is not over.”
The Central California Conference-champion Hawks dropped to 20-5-3 on the season.
The Capital Valley Conference-champion Broncos improved to 19-3-0.
Both teams automatically qualified for CIF NorCal Regionals.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” said Flores, whose squad claimed the Central California Conference with a 10-2-0 mark. “We’ve set a high standard. Most teams wish they could be in our shoes right now.”
A penalty shootout was used to determine the winner of the Division-II title game following 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime.
Flores evened the score at 1-1 during the first OT.
Neither team tallied a goal in the second overtime.
Flores and Edivaldo Yepez converted penalty kicks for the Hawks.
Bella Vista’s goalie denied Central Valley three times to secure the victory.
“We were confident,” Flores said. “We practice penalties all the time. It’s not like we missed them.”
“Their goalie had an excellent night, especially on PKs,” Leon said. “He was diving in the right direction. I couldn’t believe it. Not even professionals do that.”
Central Valley has won seven league titles and participated in the playoffs 11 times during Leon’s coaching tenure.
The Hawks will try to end years of frustration by winning their first-ever section title next winter.
“This group tried really hard,” Leon said. “We didn’t get the result we expected. Life goes on. Eventually, it’s going to happen. I don’t know when. I probably won’t be there anymore.”
“It hasn’t happened for us yet,” Flores added. “Hopefully, future generations will bring one home.”