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Central Valley boys battle for postseason berth
•Mixed results for CV’s, Ceres High’s soccer programs
Adan Mercado CV
Adan Mercado and Central Valley’s boys soccer team kept its playoff hopes alive last week. The Hawks notched one win, one loss and one tie in Central California Conference play. - photo by Dale Butler

Central Valley’s boys soccer team kept its playoff hopes alive this past week.

The Hawks collected one win, one loss and one tie to remain in the hunt for the Central California Conference’s final postseason spot. Central Valley moved into a tie for third place in the CCC standings with Atwater and Merced.

“We need to beat Atwater and Merced this week to make it to playoffs,” head coach Horatio Garcia said.

Central Valley improved to 13-5-6 overall and 4-3-2 in league after battling to a 1-1 draw with Buhach Colony on Thursday in Atwater.

“It felt like a loss,” Garcia said. “We had seven to nine scoring opportunities in front of the goal. We weren’t able to capitalize.”

Ivan Cervantes led the Hawks with one goal.

Central Valley goalkeeper Osvaldo Cisneros made one save.

The Thunder evened the score midway through the second half.

Atwater escaped with a 2-1 win over Central Valley on Jan. 31 in Ceres.

“We created scoring opportunities,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish. It’s frustrating because they’re a direct challenger for a playoff spot.”

Alexis Cervantes accounted for the Hawks’ lone goal.

Younger brother Ivan Cervantes delivered the pass.

Oscar Mercado totaled four saves at goalkeeper.

Central Valley trailed 2-1 at halftime.

“Atwater has very fast forwards,” Garcia said. 

The loss ended the Hawks’ three-game unbeaten streak.

Visiting Central Valley knocked off second-place Patterson 4-3 on Jan. 30.

“Overall, I’m very happy with the outcome,” Garcia said. “It feels good getting a win against one of the top teams in the section.” 

Yahir Perez, Eberardo Huaracha, Tahte Kang and Alexis Cervantes all contributed on offense.

Perez and Cervantes led the Hawks in scoring with two goals apiece.

Huaracha dished out two assists.

Yang had one assist.

Mercado totaled two saves.

Central Valley outscored Patterson 2-0 in the opening half.

Down 3-1, the Tigers evened the score after scoring back-to-back goals.

Perez tallied the eventual, game-winning goal with 10 minutes to play.

Central Valley turned its season around after dropping two of its first four conference games.

“We’ve improved the last couple games in terms of creating scoring opportunities,” Garcia said. 

“If we make it to playoffs, we’re going to go in with a lot of momentum,” he added.

Bulldogs struggle

Ceres High’s shorthanded boys soccer team totaled just one goal in losing to Mountain House, Grace Davis and Lathrop this past week.

“We had chances,” said Bulldogs’ Coach Gilbert Zamora Jr. “We didn’t finish.”

Mountain House spoiled Ceres High’s Senior Night with a 1-0 win on Friday in Ceres.

“We had a chance to tie or win,” Zamora said. “Their goalie had a really good game. He stopped everything.”

Ceres High dropped to 6-11-4 overall and into sixth place in the Western Athletic Conference standings (4-6-3).

First-place Mountain House improved to 12-4-2 and 9-3-2.

The Bulldogs and Mustangs tied 4-4 during the first half of the WAC season.

Bulldog upperclassmen Benjamin Larranaga, Fernando Martinez, Yahir Medina, Oscar Melgar, Joshua Rodriguez and Joshua Yepez competed at home for the final time.

“They all started,” said Zamora .

Second-place Grace Davis shut out Ceres High 4-0 on Wednesday at CUSD Stadium.

“It’s frustrating,” Zamora said. “Their shots went in. Ours didn’t. That’s been an issue all season.”

Host Ceres High lost 5-1 to third-place Lathrop on Jan. 30.

Yepez accounted for the Bulldogs’ lone goal.

“They have a really good team—a lot of club players. We tried our best.”

Ceres High dropped out of playoff contention last week.

“We were doing well when we had all of our players,” Zamora said.

Zamora had to fill roster spots with JV talent during the second half of the season.

The Bulldogs lost a handful of varsity players for various reasons, including standout midfielders Nicholas Vieyra and Luis Flores.

“Halfway through the season, we lost three starters. Nick and Luis stopped playing high-school soccer so they could play for Academy teams. They left for their future. I respect their decision.”

Vieyra’s and Flores’ presence has been missed.

“They have experience. “They’re the heart of the team.”

Josh Rodriguez CHS
Josh Rodriguez and Ceres High’s boys soccer team played three games in a five-day span last week. - photo by Dale Butler