The Central Valley varsity boys soccer team’s grueling postseason run ended with a loss to Sanger in the first round of the CIF Northern California Regional Division-II Championship Tournament.
It marked the third straight game the Hawks played in that used penalty kicks to determine the winner.
Third-seeded Sanger edged sixth-seeded Central Valley 8-7 on PKs on March 3 in front of a large crowd at Tom Fores Stadium.
The Apaches topped No. 2 Las Lomas 1-0 and No. 5 Redwood 4-0 en route to claiming the NorCal title.
“Playoffs are definitely mentally and physically draining,” Hawks’ senior winger/attacking midfielder Isaac Juarez said. “The farther you get, the harder it gets. You don’t have the same energy you had at the beginning of playoffs. But at the same time, you’re doing what you love.”
Juarez, Joel Arellano, Alex Bautista, Agustin Gutierrez, Jorge Iniguez, Sebastian Castillo and Jesus Yepez all converted penalty kicks during the win-or-go-home shootout versus Sanger.
Goalie Erick Martinez Stucchi totaled 14 saves in defeat.
He blocked the Apaches’ first PK attempt.
“I’m not going to put all the blame on myself,” Martinez Stucchi said. “But if I stopped a second one, we would have won. I wish I would have stepped up.”
Leo Giovanni Ayala accounted for the Hawks’ goal during regulation.
Ayala evened the score at 1-1 with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Neither team scored in overtime, which consisted of 15 minutes of sudden-death play.
“At this point, there are no favorites based on the results from sections,” Central Valley head coach Omar Leon said. “The kids did what we asked them to do. They responded well. Penalty kicks just decide who advances to the next round. Somebody had to lose. There’s nothing to be sad about. They should be proud of themselves. We had a great season.”
The Hawks continued their tradition of excellence this winter.
Central Valley advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II finals for the second year in a row, posted a 20-5-3 overall record and claimed its second consecutive Central California Conference crown (9-1-2) this winter.
“We had our share of success throughout the season,” Martinez Stucchi said. “We wish it could have ended in a different way, which is getting that blue (section) banner. But it is what it is. You can’t rewrite history. At the end of the day, you’re playing soccer and having fun.”
Central Valley had unbeaten streaks of 14 and nine games during the course of the season.
The Hawks opened the 2019 campaign with back-to-back losses.
“I always had faith in the team,” Juarez said. “I knew what we were capable of doing. It was just a matter of working towards it.”
No longer conference opponents, Ceres High’s and Central Valley’s varsity boys volleyball teams kept their crosstown-rivalry alive this past week when they faced off in preseason play.
The visiting Bulldogs held on for a 3-1 (25-13, 25-19, 19-25, 26-24) victory over the Hawks in front of energized fans Friday evening.
“The atmosphere was great,” Ceres High utility player Verlis Smith said. “The crowd was trying to get in our heads. It makes you more excited.”
Smith tallied nine kills, six digs, two blocks and one ace versus Central Valley.
Bulldogs teammates Jacob Rodriguez, Sam Garcia, Victor Hurtado, Yair Munoz, Aaron Delgado and Adrian Barajas also contributed.
Rodriguez had 21 assists, two digs, one kill and one ace.
Garcia had nine kills, seven blocks and three aces.
Hurtado had eight kills, eight digs, five aces and one block.
Munoz had five aces, four digs and one kill.
Delgado had five digs, three blocks and one ace.
Barajas had one kill.
“The one thing I like about our team is we’re always positive,” Smith said. “We play with intensity. We push each other. We don’t give up.”
Central Valley rallied from a nine-point deficit before dropping the fourth game to Ceres High.
Tied at 24-all, the Bulldogs accounted for the final two points to secure the victory.
“The last game was tough,” Smith said. We got the W. That’s what matters to us.”
“We fought our hardest,” Central Valley senior Canelo Villanueva said. “We needed to communicate more. We’ll learn from the mistakes and get better.”
“You can’t wait so late in a game to get the momentum,” Hawks’ head coach Kelly Heese said. “You got to start off on fire.”
Central Valley competed shorthanded against Ceres High.
Starter Erick Martinez Stucchi had to work.
“We were missing Erick,” Villanueva said. “That brought us down a little.”
“You can’t say what-if,” Heese stated. “He could have had an off-day.”