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Hawks fail to win seventh straight soccer conference title
Los Banos ends Central Valleys run of dominance
Victor Yepez and Central Valleys varsity boys soccer team had to settle for runner-up honors this year despite beating Western Athletic Conference champion Patterson twice.

Central Valley High School's varsity boys soccer team found itself in an unfamiliar position at the end of the 2014 regular season.

Winners of six straight league titles-including four in a row in the Western Athletic Conference-the Hawks failed to place first this year.

Central Valley had to settle for second place after battling to a 3-3 tie with host Los Banos last Wednesday.

"Everybody, including myself, thought it was going to be an easy game," Hawks head coach Omar Leon said. "We paid the consequence for underestimating the underdog."

Central Valley needed to beat Los Banos and get help from Livingston to edge out Patterson for the WAC crown.
The latter took place as Livingston beat Patterson, 2-1, Wednesday evening.

Central Valley didn't do its part as sixth-place Los Banos (2-9-1) played the role of spoiler earlier in the day.

"Obviously, it's very disappointing," said Leon, whose team handled Los Banos 4-1 on Oct. 6 in Ceres. "We weren't able to continue the streak. It's a wake-up call. Hopefully, we take it as a learning experience going into playoffs. Our season isn't over."

Patterson (9-3-0, 27 points) won the WAC crown.

Central Valley (7-0-5, 26 points), Livingston (7-2-3, 24 points) and Ceres High (6-3-3, 21 points) placed second, third and fourth, respectively.

Patterson, Central Valley and Livingston all qualified for the playoffs.

"We didn't lose a single game and we beat Patterson twice," Leon said. "And we still weren't able to win the league title. We tied too many times."

Central Valley's Hector Mendoza, Robert Perez and Osvaldo Yepez finished with one goal apiece against Los Banos.

Gerardo Enriquez, Juan Martinez, Jorge Bustos and Gerardo Enriquez collected assists.

Hawk goalkeeper Ramon Ruiz had seven saves.

Los Banos evened the score at 3-3 late in the game with a penalty kick.

"Los Banos has a new coach," Leon said. "They're getting better. They have a couple of excellent players. For them, it's a big accomplishment tying us. We didn't play well. We had 23 scoring opportunities and only put three away. We had a problem scoring. We had our destiny in our hands and didn't capitalize."

Fourth-seeded Central Valley will play host to No. 13 East Union of the Valley Oak League in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs on Nov. 4. The contest will get underway at 3 p.m.

The Hawks advanced to the section finals in 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2009.

Will Central Valley make history this year by winning it all?

"I don't want to think about that yet," Leon said. "We have talent. It's just a matter of putting it together and staying focused. There is no room for mistakes in playoffs."