A year removed from losing 1-0 in the finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs, Central Valley’s senior-laden varsity girls soccer team sought to win the D2 crown this winter.
Seeded sixth, the Hawks had to settle for a top-eight finish after losing 5-1 to No. 3 Ponderosa in the quarterfinals on Feb. 15 in Shingle Springs.
“Getting to the finals last year wasn’t enough,” head coach Miguel Larranaga said. “They girls really wanted to get back there again and win. That was our dream. I was confident we had the team to do it. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. I’m disappointed for them.”
"We fell short. I’m still proud of what we accomplished the last four years. We made history.”Jocelyn Lopez
“We wanted it really bad,” senior striker Jocelyn Lopez said. “But we knew it would be a bigger challenge this year because we’re in a higher division. We fell short. I’m still proud of what we accomplished the last four years. We made history.”
Central Valley compiled a 17-7-2 overall record and captured its fourth straight league title during the 2018-19 campaign.
The Hawks claimed the Central California Conference crown with an unblemished 10-0-2 mark.
Central Valley placed first in the Western Athletic Conference the previous three seasons.
“We had a great season,” Larranaga said. “We placed first in league and made playoffs again. I’m proud of the girls and what we built.”
Lopez, Abigail Martinez, Jackie Sanchez, Mixtly Vega, Jocelyn Rodriguez and Sarah Silva were members of all four league championship teams.
“The legacy the girls left behind is going to be very hard to match,” Larranaga said. “The bar has been set really high.”
Vega accounted for Central Valley’s lone goal versus Ponderosa.
She converted a penalty kick in the second half.
The Hawks faced a 3-0 deficit at intermission.
Ponderosa snapped Central Valley’s 13-game unbeaten streak.
“We knew we were facing a very strong team,” Larranaga said. “By the time we started competing with them, it was too late. We’re disappointed with how the game went. We could have done better. Everything went their way. They played perfect. We didn’t.”
Lopez tallied five goals in Central Valley’s 6-0 blowout of No. 11 Bear Creek in the first round of the playoffs on Feb. 13 at Patterson Community Stadium.
Vega had one goal and one assist.
Tanya Mendoza had two assists.
Sanchez and Yaira Contreras both had one assist.
Lillianna Cruz made two saves.
Lopez, Vega, Mendoza, Sanchez and six other senior players will be lost to graduation.
“This team is special for me personally because I’ve coached most of the girls since they were nine years old,” Larranaga said. “They’re like part of my family. It’s going to be tough next year. It’s going to be different. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”