A powerhouse in the Stanislaus District, Central Valley's varsity girls soccer team elevated its status to a top-flight program in the Sac-Joaquin Section, state and nation during the 2017-18 season.
Central Valley has been named the Courier's Team of the Year for its excellence this winter.
"I had a talented group of girls," first-year head coach Miguel Larranaga said. "They were smart. They understood the game. They were hungry to win."
The 2017-18 Hawks made their first-ever appearance in a Sac-Joaquin Section title game, posted a program-best 21-2-2 overall record, captured their third consecutive Western Athletic Conference championship and finished first at the Buchanan Tournament in Clovis.
The Hawks climbed to No. 1 in the state and No. 12 in the nation in the MaxPreps rankings on Dec. 15 thanks to a 9-0-2 showing during the preseason.
Central Valley notched nine wins, one loss and no ties during the WAC campaign.
The Hawks split with Ceres High, and beat Livingston, Patterson, Pacheco and Los Banos twice.
Central Valley had its program-record, tying 17-game unbeaten streak snapped by crosstown-rival Ceres High.
The Hawks won three of four games en route to a runner-up finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff tournament.
Third-seeded Central Valley lost 1-0 to No. 4 Woodland in the championship game.
The Hawks edged No. 2 Sierra 5-4 in penalty kicks on the road in the semifinals.
Central Valley defeated No. 6 Vista del Lago 4-2 in PKs in the quarterfinals.
The Hawks earned a narrow 1-0 victory over No. 14 Pioneer in opening round.
Central Valley advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs the previous two seasons.
"We knew we'd win league," Larranaga said. "We weren't expecting to go all the way to the (section) finals. We didn't think it was possible based on what happened in the past with the same group of players. I had to change their mindset. When you think you've given everything you have, you have to give a little more. That's what the girls did."
Central Valley's roster featured 17 players, including Jocelyn Lopez, Abigail Martinez, Citlaly Salinas, Mariana Garibay, Jackie Sanchez, Emely Lopez, Mixtly Vega, Amanda Calvo, Daniela Yepez, Jocelyn Rodriguez, Sarah Silva, Michelle Jimenez, Tanya Mendoza, Guadalupe Gomez, Jasmine Singh, Lillianna Cruz and Laiza Quintero.
Hawk frosh-soph standouts Anusha Kumar, Yaira Contreras, Stephanie Juarez and Jasmine Magana were promoted to varsity for playoffs.
"I had talent at every position," Larranaga said.
Central Valley will try to wins its first section crown and fourth straight league title in 2019.
The Hawks will return a wealth of talent as just four players will be lost to graduation.
"They're already talking about next season," Larranaga said. "The expectations are going to be higher. We're not expecting anything less than getting to the finals. We want that blue banner. Hopefully, we can make it happen. It really hurt not getting it this year."