Central Valley’s varsity boys soccer team finds itself in a familiar position.
The Hawks are vying for their seventh trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section finals.
Central Valley advanced to the semifinals of the Division-II postseason tournament this past week after winning twice in a three-day span.
“We’ve been here before,” senior goalkeeper Erick Martinez Stucchi said. “We know what we need to do.”
Second-seeded Central Valley pulled away for a 3-1 win over seventh-seeded Pitman in the quarterfinals on Thursday in Ceres.
Alex Bautista secured the victory when he converted a penalty kick with less than two minutes to play.
“It was a relief,” Martinez Stucchi said. “It was a tough game. It was stressful after they scored their first goal.”
Down 2-0, the Pride made the contest interesting by cutting the deficit to one goal midway through the second half.
Bautista dashed Pitman’s bid for an upset.
“His confidence is through the roof when it comes to PKs,” Martinez Stucchi said.
Bautista scored twice versus the Pride.
Leo Giovanni Ayala had one goal.
Isaac Juarez and Jesus Yepez both dished out one assist.
Martinez Stucchi made four saves.
Central Valley shut out Pitman, 4-0, during the regular season.
Central Valley outlasted No. 15 Lincoln of Lincoln 1-0 in overtime during their first-round clash on Feb. 18.
The contest lasted 100 minutes.
Juarez broke a scoreless tie with a close-range goal off a pass from Miguel Sanchez two minutes into the first 10 minutes of OT.
Martinez-Stucchi totaled six saves.
“We made it tougher than it should have been,” he said. “We were dominating and couldn’t put the ball in the net. Luckily for us, we were able to finally get one.”
Central Valley (19-3-3) will No. 11 Del Oro in the semifinals.
Del Oro upset No. 3 Pondersa 2-1 in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Roseville 1-0 in the opening round.
“There’s a reason they got this far,” Martinez Stucchi said. “They didn’t get anything handed to them. We will not take them for granted. We need to remain humble. We have to play to our full potential.”