Jose Ramirez has experienced individual and team success at every level, including youth, high school and college.
The 2010 Central Valley graduate found himself in unfamiliar territory during his sophomore season with the Cal State Stanislaus men's soccer team.
"We planned out our goals," Ramirez said. "We didn't reach them. It's frustrating. We played with a lot of heart. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. This year was more of a learning experience for everyone else."
The Warriors compiled a program-best 12-5-3 overall record, advanced to the NCAA Division-II Championship Tournament for the first time and captured the California Collegiate Athletic Association crown in 2012.
Stanislaus finished a disappointing 8-9-1 this past season. The Warriors failed to post a winning record for just the first time in five years.
A role player with Stanislaus as a freshman, Jose played in 16 games with 10 starts in 2013.
Ramirez scored a team-leading six goals.
"I played with an ankle injury towards the end of the season," he said. "It kept me from playing at the level I'm capable of. It was challenging. I gave it my all. I knew I had to step it up. I trained hard because I wanted to win a starting position."
Ramirez was part of a team that featured more than 20 players, including three Central Valley graduates.
Jose, Gerardo Cazares and Daniel Ochoa competed together at the prep level.
Ochoa tallied one goal and four assists in 15 games for the Warriors. The freshman forward started twice.
Cazares, a sophomore midfielder, scored one goal while making four starts and playing in 16 games.
"I had fun even though we didn't accomplish our goals," Ramirez said. "There were times when all three of us were on the pitch at the same time. It felt like we were back at Central Valley."
Central Valley's varsity boys soccer program reached unprecedented heights thanks to the outstanding play of Ramirez, Cazares and Ochoa.
Jose and Gerardo were major contributors as sophomores when the Hawks captured the school's first league title in a team sport. Central Valley placed first in the Valley Oak League, advanced to the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs and finished 17-3-2 on the year.
Ramirez, Cazares and Ochoa propelled the Hawks to conference titles in 2010 (Western Athletic Conference) and 2009 (VOL). Jose and Gerardo were named VOL and WAC Most Valuable Players, respectively. Ochoa earned all-league honors twice. Central Valley was runner-up at the section tournament both years. The Hawks had a combined record of 33-5-7 from 2009-10.
Ochoa, a four-year star on Central Valley's varsity boys soccer team, reunited with Ramirez and Cazares at Stanislaus in 2012. Ochoa, 2011 WAC MVP, missed the entire season with a foot injury. Daniel totaled a program-record 88 goals and dished out 27 assists with the Hawks.
Central Valley secured its sixth straight league title and seventh consecutive playoff berth under head coach Omar Leon's guidance in 2013.
The Hawks also advanced to the sections finals for the fourth time since 2009.
"Omar's a great coach," Ramirez said. "He's a role model. He's helped a lot of kids."
Stanislaus ended the 2013 season with a 2-1 loss to Cal State East Bay on Nov. 3.
Jose evened the score at 1-1 in the 76th minute. Ochoa assisted.
The Pioneers tallied the winning goal in the 96th minute.
"Nobody likes losing," said Ramirez, whose team won four of its final five matches. "It was a bit of a roller coaster. You learn as you go."
Jose believes Stanislaus is poised for a bounce-back year in 2014.
"I can see us in the playoffs," he said. "I need to be a lot more prepared next year. There are tons of great players. I know I have weaknesses and have to work on them. I can never be perfect."