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Hawks are hungry
Larranaga takes over CV varsity girls soccer program
Jocelyn Lopez (10) will fill a major role while trying to lead Central Valleys varsity girls soccer team to its third consecutive Western Athletic Conference crown and fourth straight Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth this winter. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

First-year head coach Miguel Larranaga welcomes the challenge of trying to maintain Central Valley's run of success in varsity girls soccer.

Larranaga replaced Maria Briones, who led the Hawks to a 20-3-1 overall record, their second straight Western Athletic Conference title (13-1-1) and a top-eight finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in 2017.

Cyndi Meshach, Briones' predecessor, coached Central Valley for eight seasons.

The Hawks accumulated 29 wins, 13 losses and five draws in WAC play during her final four years. Central Valley won one league championship and participated in the playoffs twice.

"There's a lot of pressure," Larranaga said. "The program has been doing very well the past couple years. The expectation is to do better every season. To be able to do that, I need commitment from the girls and support from the school. I do."

"I didn't know who he (Larranaga) was until we interviewed him," Central Valley athletic director Greg Magni said. "He brings a lot to the table. He's a really good coach. He knows his stuff. He has a great rapport with the girls. They really respect and trust him."

Central Valley returns a wealth of talent from last season's team, including Citlaly Salinas (sophomore defender), Jocelyn Lopez (junior midfielder), Abigail Martinez (junior stopper), Jacquelyn Sanchez (junior forward), Mixtly Vega (junior midfielder), Mariana Garibay (senior midfielder), Emely Lopez (senior goalkeeper), Amanda Calvo (junior midfielder), Jocelyn Rodriguez (junior defender) and Sarah Silva (junior midfielder).

Salinas was voted 2017 WAC co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Lopez and Martinez both earned first-team all-conference honors.

Lopez collected 24 goals and 16 assists.

Martinez totaled 10 goals and 12 assists.

Sanchez, Vega and Garibay were all selected to the WAC Second Team.

Sanchez had 13 goals and seven assists.

Vega had eight goals and 11 assists.

Garibay had one goal and four assists.

Central Valley's top newcomers are Guadalupe Gomez (senior defender), Michelle Jimenez (junior forward), Tanya Mendoza (junior defender/midfielder), Jasmine Singh (junior defender) and Daniela Yepez (junior forward).

Jimenez, Mendoza, Singh and Lopez competed at the junior-varsity level this past year.

The Hawks will vie for their third straight WAC title and fourth consecutive playoff berth in 2018.

"Everybody is expecting Central Valley to win," Larranaga said. "We have to prove it on the field. It's not going to be easy. Ceres High is going to be the toughest team we play in league. Our goals are to finish in first place in the WAC and compete in the playoffs. We definitely want to win it all."

Ceres High prevented Central Valley from posting an unbeaten record in WAC play in 2017.

The Bulldogs earned a narrow 1-0 victory while battling the Hawks on the final day of the regular season.

"I was there," said Larranaga, whose two daughters play for Ceres High. "Hopefully it doesn't happen this year."

Sixth-seeded Central Valley lost 4-0 to No. 3 Granite Bay in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

The Hawks surrendered three goals during the second half.

"If we play our best and at a high level, we'll have a chance to do better than last year," Larranaga said. "We have everything we need."