Unbeaten through its first 10 games, Central Valley High School's varsity girls soccer team made the mistake of underestimating El Capitan during their first meeting in Western Athletic Conference play .
The Hawks lost 2-1 to the Gauchos.
Central Valley dominated from start to finish in shutting out El Capitan 2-0 on Wednesday in Merced.
"The first game, nothing went right," Hawks head coach Cyndi Meshach said. "There was no communication or passing. We were a little overconfident. Everything seemed to come easy up to that point of the season. We were scoring goals in the opening minutes. That makes it easy to think you're untouchable. It's a topic we discussed already-don't underestimate a team."
Central Valley leapfrogged El Capitan in the WAC standings.
The first-place Hawks (9-1-0, 27 points) need to win only one of their two remaining games or collect two ties to win the conference title outright.
The second-place Gauchos (8-2-1, 25 points) must win their final game and get help.
El Capitan needs Central Valley to lose twice or lose and tie once to earn a share of the WAC crown.
"They like being in this position," Meshach said. "The nicest thing is they're excited for each other. These girls are so connected to each other. They don't want to lose another game."
Central Valley's varsity boys soccer program won six consecutive league titles from 2008-13.
"It's an absolute possibility," Meshach said when asked if Central Valley's girls team would win multiple conference championships. "It just depends on if we can maintain this communication and thirst to learn and get better. We have a young team with a lot of growing to do. I see room for improvement. That's exciting."
The Hawks have a roster loaded with young, battle-tested talent.
Trinity Avila, Mariana Garibay, Emely Lopez and Laiza Quintero are sophomores.
Jocelyn Lopez, Abby Martinez, Jocelyn Rodriguez, Jackie Sanchez, Sarah Silva, Mixtly Vega and Yesenia Zuniga are freshmen.
Martinez, Rodriguez, Sanchez, Silva, Vega, Zuniga, Garibay, Quintero and Emely Lopez dedicate time to the sport year-round.
"They're all solid players," Meshach said. "They have competitive experience from club ball."
The Hawks have four team captains: Garibay, Jocelyn Lopez, Evelyn Andrade (Sr.) and Nicole Munoz (Sr.).
Zuniga scored a game-high two goals against the Gauchos last week.
Martinez and Jocelyn Lopez both collected one assist.
Goalkeeper Emely Lopez totaled eight saves.
"It was a big game," Meshach said. "We just wanted it more. We played hard. We played better. We looked good."
Meshach and Co. enjoyed the bus ride home from Merced.
Central Valley's final two WAC opponents are Ceres High (May 2) and Los Banos (May 4).
"Everyone is having fun," said Meshach, whose team had a near-perfect 16-1 overall record as of Sunday.