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CV girls sneak into playoffs
Niome McMurray
Central Valley upperclassmen Giselle Hernandez, Isabella Gudino, Viviana Flores, Niome McMurray and Daniel Rodriguez were recognized during Senior Night on Thursday at Patterson. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Central Valley’s girls soccer program secured a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth during the last week of the regular season.

Ceres High won one of its final two games heading into the playoffs.

Needing a tie or win to earn the Central California Conference’s third-and-final playoff spot, the Hawks battled to a 1-1 draw with the Patterson Tigers on Thursday at Patterson Community Stadium.

The Hawks prevented the Tigers from winning the CCC championship. Patterson (10-6-4, 7-1-4) had to settle for second place behind Golden Valley (8-6-3, 8-2-2).

“It felt like a playoff game,” Central Valley head coach Miguel Larranaga said. “Both teams wanted to win. Both teams fought until the last minute. It was a battle. That’s the best we’ve played this year.”

Central Valley improved to 11-10-2 overall and 7-3-2 in the CCC standings.

The Hawks were awarded the No. 14 seed for the Division-I playoff bracket.

Central Valley qualified for the postseason for the first time in three years.

“That’s one of the reasons we wanted it so bad,” Larranaga said. “I’m so happy we made it to playoffs.”

Freshman Aaralyn Jauregui scored her team-leading 26th goal of the season versus the Tigers.

“Every coach dreams of having a striker like her,” Larranaga said. “She finishes. She’s improving. I can only imagine what’s going to happen next year.”

Hawk goalkeeper Magnolia Tavizon made four saves.

“That’s the best game she’s had,” Larranaga said. “She did amazing.”

The Hawks and the Tigers both had their Senior Nights at Patterson Community Stadium last week.

Central Valley’s ceremony was slated to be held at its home game versus Merced on Feb. 1 but the contest was relocated to on the road at McNamara Park due to poor field conditions as a result of wet weather.

“I have a lot of respect for Patterson for allowing us to do that,” Larranaga said.

Hawk upperclassmen recognized during the Central Valley-Patterson game included Viviana Flores, Isabella Gudino, Giselle Hernandez, Niome McMurray and Daniela Rodriguez.

Senior teammates Isabella Barajas and Aundrea Perez did not make the trip to Patterson as they were in Mexico.

“They’ve been a big part of the program,” said Larranaga. “They’re amazing players. They’re very respectful. We’re going to miss them.”

Central Valley tied Patterson twice this season.

The Hawks battled back from a 1-0 deficit during the rematch.

Jauregui evened the score in the opening half.

“We never gave up,” commented Larranaga. “We could have won it.”

Central Valley had three shot attempts hit the post, including one each by Rodriguez, Aaralyn Jauregui and Aaliyah Jauregui.

Ceres High closed out Western Athletic Conference play with a 5-0 victory over Grace Davis on Feb. 5.

The Bulldogs topped the Spartans 6-1 on Jan. 17 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

“Everybody got playing time,” Ceres High first-year head coach Rudy Jimenez said.

Bulldog Marissa Renteria scored twice during the second meeting.

Arianna Diaz and Brianna Luna chipped in with one goal apiece.

Ceres High goalkeeper Lily Blevins totaled nine saves.

The Bulldogs trailed 2-0 at halftime.

Ceres High outplayed Grace Davis the rest of the game.

“We came back and scored four on them,” Jimenez said. 

The Bulldogs secured their third straight playoff berth this year, including first under Jimenez’s guidance.

Ceres High amassed a 12-9-1 overall record and placed third in the WAC standings with an 8-5-1 mark.

The Bulldogs won eight of their final nine league games.

Ceres High would have had a more favorable draw in the playoffs had it not struggled during the first half of conference play.

The 15th-seeded Bulldogs drew second-seeded Oakdale (15-6-3, 6-2-2) in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III bracket. The Mustangs finished first in the Valley Oak League.

“I wish we would have started the season off with everybody,” Jimenez said. “What hurt us a lot was winter break with people gone. Some of the girls had other priorities.”