A slow start ultimately doomed the Oakdale High School varsity boys soccer team.
The Mustangs entered the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III tournament as the number 10 seed and traveled to take on seventh seed Valley of Sacramento on Tuesday, Feb. 18. After a scoreless first half, Valley scored on a header goal early in the second half to go up 1-0. Minutes later Kaleb McDonald tied the game on an unassisted goal.
The teams battled for much of the second half but with three minutes remaining Valley put the game away with a late tally and advanced with a 2-1 victory. Riley Blount was in goal for Oakdale and had four saves.
“Our demeanor was low. Following our disappointing end to the regular season, it seemed to linger (the bad feeling of losing two in a row),”said head coach Alfredo Quiroga.
The Mustangs were in first place with two games remaining but suffered two losses that knocked them down to third place in the Valley Oak League, forcing them to go on the road for the playoffs.
“During practice on Monday I could tell that the boys were down on themselves and did not seem focused. I told them that they need to let it go and that there is nothing we can do about it,” Quiroga said. “The postseason is a new season. We faced a similar situation before where we slipped in the regular season and ended up winning the Section Championship.”
This time, however, it didn’t go Oakdale’s way, even with some added encouragement from their coach, who tried to rally the troops following the scoreless first half at Valley.
“I told them that they are distracted and not playing with the heart that I know they have inside of them. They were playing very cautious, both teams were. I told them that they need to loosen up and play to win the game,” Quiroga said.
The lone goal in the second half was not enough, though, and the Mustangs left Sacramento for a long bus ride home after the loss to Valley.
“The boys had a good season overall. They started the season off slow, but turned it around and even had a chance to win league,” noted Quiroga.
Oakdale went 7-3-2 in league play and had an overall record of 11-6-4.
“This team is very talented and played with heart and did not quit,” said Quiroga. “That’s the best part about this team is that no matter what they did not quit.”