If Oakdale High’s varsity boys soccer team had any questions on the type of game to expect from a Central Valley team in search of its third trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section finals in four seasons, they certainly had them answered quickly on Oct. 30.
The fifth-seeded Hawks exploded for a four-goal lead in the opening half and overcame two scores in the final period to outlast Oakdale 5-2 in the first round of the Division III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Central Valley would shut out highly-regarded Solano County Athletic League champs, Benicia, in a 2-0 win a round later and plays No. 1 seed Manteca today, Nov. 7, in a shot to reach the SJS finals.
Oakdale (10-13-3) had bested Manteca late in the Valley Oak League schedule to reach the postseason, but couldn’t find similar momentum against a Central Valley team that now sports a 23-3-2 overall record.
“They are a very good team and they were very efficient,” Oakdale coach Alfredo Quiroga said. “A lack of concentration hurt us and we had a rough start.”
The Mustangs ultimately got on the scoreboard in the second half with goals from Miguel Barajas and Daniel Martinez after a pair of assists by Davis Harper. The plays pressed Central Valley to fight from their own half of the field, but didn’t narrow the margin from that point.
“In that second half we played with a lot of heart and had them against the wall,” Quiroga said.
The loss represented Oakdale’s second first-round exit from the postseason in three years; they fell to Union Mine in 2010. Oakdale won three straight section titles from 2003 to 2005.
“My feelings are that we accomplished our goal of making it to playoffs, though we would have liked to have done better in that game,” Quiroga said. “I’m pretty happy with our performance this year.”
Quiroga said Central Valley plays with a roster dominated by a group of players who have played together on competitive teams outside of the high school season since they were young. It’s an asset of experience not shared by the Oakdale squad, which has only a few comp players.
“Playing comp soccer on a regular basis can make a difference,” Quiroga said.
With Manteca and VOL runner-up Sierra (5-1 winners over Colfax) still alive, the conference has two teams still represented in the SJS playoffs. The Timberwolves are the No. 3 seed in the D-IV bracket and play visiting Galt today for a shot at the finals.