Central Valley’s varsity boys soccer team won three times this past week and moved into the driver’s seat in the Central California Conference title race.
The Hawks leapfrogged El Capitan, which hurt its championship hopes with a pair of ties.
“We haven’t won league since 2013,” senior striker Gerardo Flores said. “We’re trying to regain that dominance and set the bar for future teams at Central Valley.”
Central Valley improved to 16-3-3 overall and 9-2-0 in the CCC standings after beating Buhach Colony 2-0 on Thursday at McNamara Park.
Flores and Edivaldo Yepez both scored once for the Hawks.
Isaac Juarez collected one assist.
Erick Martinez made five saves at goalkeeper.
Central Valley secured its 11th playoff berth in program history with a 1-0 win over Golden Valley on Jan. 29 in Ceres.
Juarez accounted for the game’s only goal.
Roberto Pelayo assisted.
Martinez had two saves.
Central Valley beat host Merced 3-1 o Jan. 28.
Flores tallied all three of the Hawks’ goals.
Yepez and Abel Calvo both tallied one assist.
Martinez totaled seven saves.
“We dominated all three games,” Flores said. “We communicated, touched the ball and never stopped moving.”
Central Valley (27 points) will claim the CCC crown this week with a win or tie against El Capitan (6-1-3, 21 points).
El Capitan needs to beat Central Valley and Patterson to play spoiler.
“It feels great to be in this position,” Flores said. “I’m not surprised. We have a good team. We’ve been training really hard. Every year, we strive to get better.”
“It’s totally up to us now,” Leon said. “It would be another accomplishment for our soccer program.”
Central Valley has won six league titles under Leon’s guidance, including three in both the Western Athletic Conference and Valley Oak League.
The Hawks have also made five appearances in section title games.
“The kids are committed,” Leon said. “They want to improve on what we’ve done in the past.”
Tie hurts Bulldogs’ title hopes
Ceres High’s varsity boys soccer program shut out Pacheco 4-0 on Dec. 21.
The two teams battled to a 0-0 draw on Jan. 30 in Los Banos.
Ceres High (14-1-4 overall) dropped to second place in the Western Athletic Conference (9-0-3, 30 points).
First-place Johansen (13-1-4, 10-0-2) had a two-point lead over Ceres High in the WAC standings as of Sunday.
The two teams tied twice this year.
“Johansen has to lose,” Bulldogs’ head coach Danny Barragan said when asked if Ceres High still had a chance to win the league title. “We have to depend on someone else. It’s hard to accept because we’ve been playing well.”
Ceres High goalkeeper Leo Trujillo 13 saves against Pacheco.
The Bulldogs took 13 shots versus the Panthers.
Ceres High and Pacheco were both assessed two yellow cards.
“This was a wrong time to have a bad day,” Barragan said. “It’s a wakeup call.”
Saul Ruiz scored twice during Ceres High’s 2-0 win over Los Banos Friday evening at Bulldog Stadium.
Ivan Arita collected one assist.
Trujillo made two saves.
The Bulldogs extended their unbeaten to 13 games last week.
Ceres High will close out the WAC season at Grace Davis today.
The game will begin at 3 p.m.
Ceres High’s varsity girls soccer team played at full-strength for the first time in over a month and a half this past week.
Facing must-win scenarios, the Bulldogs earned victories against Pacheco and Los Banos to boost their playoffs hopes.
“Those are teams Ceres should beat,” head coach Miguel Saldate said.
The Bulldogs earned a 3-0 shutout win over the Pacheco Panthers on Jan. 30 in Ceres.
Ceres High dressed 14 players for the contest.
The Bulldogs have competed nine times with 11 or fewer players this season.
“The girls had more energy,” Saldate said.
Ceres High (12-7-2) climbed to second place in the Western Athletic Conference standings (8-3-1, 25 points).
The Bulldogs, Johansen Vikings (7-3-2, 23 points) and Lathrop Spartans (7-3-0, 21 points) are vying for the conference’s final three playoff spots.
“I’m surprised,” said Saldate, whose team has managed to remain in the hunt for a postseason berth this winter despite competing shorthanded. “It’s been a tough season because of injuries and girls going on vacation. I give all the credit to all the girls who have been here throughout the season.”
Ceres High’s Jackie Ruiz tallied two goals against Pacheco.
Mariah Trevino collected one goal and one assist.
“It was a very competitive first half,” Saldate said. “We started playing little harder knowing we had to win the game.”
Ceres High crushed host Los Banos 8-0 on Jan. 28
Ruiz and Yanelli Rodriguez led the Bulldogs with two goals and one assist apiece.
Arianah Martinez collected one goal and two assists.
Trevino, Elena Arellano and Mia Bentances all scored once.
Daisy Duran and Kalyani Hermosillo both dished out one assist.
Ceres High topped Pacheco and Los Banos by scores of 10-1 and 3-1 earlier this season.
“Each game is different,” Saldate said. “You can’t be too confident. You have to play hard.”
Ceres High needs to win one of its final two games to secure its fifth consecutive postseason berth.
The Bulldogs will play Mountain House and Grace Davis this week.
Ceres High will host Grace Davis on Senior Night today at 5:30 p.m. The Bulldogs shut out the Spartans 5-0 on Jan. 16.
“They know what they need to do for us to qualify,” Saldate said.