Sebastian Caballero scores game winning goal against
on senior night to hand Golden West the league title
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
VISALIA – The Golden West Trailblazers returned to West Yosemite League supremacy last Wednesday night after a second half comeback 2-1 win over their rivals El Diamante Miners.
“It feels great, and I am really happy for our players,” Golden West head coach John McCaw said. “That second half there kind of epitomized us a little bit. We just never gave up.”
It was a must win situation for Golden West (13-6-2, 8-1-1) if they were going to cap off an undefeated second half of WYL play, and capture an outright title. The Blazers held onto a half game lead in the standings over the Lemoore Tigers. The problem was they were going up against a team who would like nothing better than to ruin their title hopes, and by halftime it seemed as if that lead was going to disappear.
El Diamante (11-9-7, 5-4-1) led Golden West at halftime 1-0. But there was no sense of panic. McCaw was impressed with how calm his players were in such an intense game.
In the fourth minute of the second half Michael Baragon leaped up and over an El Diamante defender and headed in a crossing attempt from Sebastian Caballero to tie up the game.
Eight minutes later Caballero took a long pass into their offensive zone, and with a Miner’s defender trying to knock the ball away scored the game winner in the lower right corner of the net.
“It felt amazing to get that goal on my senior night,” Caballero said.
The comeback win mimicked the Blazers play from one round of WYL play to the other. Golden West’s first round included some wins, but also a couple uncharacteristic results. A 4-2 (2OT) loss to Lemoore and then a 3-3 tie to El Diamante.
“The beginning of league was looking a little shaky,” McCaw said. “But we got better as league went on and I think that is always important.”
According to McCaw, it was the tie against El Diamante when things began to really turn around for Golden West.
Around that time Golden West began to get some key players back including two along the Blazers’ threatening front line. Baragon returned after missing three weeks. Richard Chavez was another returner after being injured in a non-league game before Christmas. It has been a tough road for Chavez, who was the Blazers’ leading scorer two years ago when they won the Division II Valley Championship, to return to the field.
“That kind of gave us a dual threat up front instead of being one dimensional, and I think that was really important too,” McCaw said.
The other aspect was the Blazers began to understand their roles inside the game plan McCaw had set up for them. The understanding to not over stretch themselves has led to six straight wins for the Blazers after their tie with the Miners.
McCaw hopes his Blazers will continue to improve as they head into postseason play. Golden West by virtue of winning the Division II title is still competing at the Division I level in the playoffs. This season they earned the No. 11 seed, and play the No. 6-seeded Clovis North Broncos (11-3-4, 7-2-1) tonight at 6 p.m.