In their last game of the regular season, the Aztecs defeated Woodlake 3-1 in a game dominated by a pair of young players
FARMERSVILLE – In just their second year in the East Sequoia League, the Aztecs have come out on top. In a night honoring the team’s seniors for their contributions to the program, it was a pair of sophomores that accounted for all three of the team’s goals last Wednesday night.
Farmersville moved over from the East Sierra League last season and finished 9-3, their same record as this year. However, that was good for third place behind Orosi and Lindsay. Orosi left for the West Sequoia League this year, which meant there was one less team on the path to the league championship.
Things were a bit shaky earlier on for the Aztecs. They began league play with a 1-3 record and allowed at least three goals in each of those losses, including a 4-3 loss to Woodlake. They didn’t panic. They made the proper adjustments and went on to win each of their remaining eight games. They only allowed one goal during that stretch which came in the last seven minutes of the final game against Woodlake when the Aztecs already had a comfortable 3-0 lead.
“We have a really strong league,” Farmersville head coach Michael Jordan said. “Even though we won it this year it could be somebody else next time.”
The Aztecs were clearly playing an inspired game of soccer. They controlled the Tigers in all aspects from beginning to end.
“We moved the ball very well and our possession was outstanding,” Jordan said. “We created a lot of opportunities even though we didn’t finish as many as we’d like but that’s a credit to Woodlake’s defense and goalkeeper.”
The future is bright for the Aztecs as they have a star sophomore duo in the making. Jose Solis and Felix Zarate led the team in goals this season as they combined for 53. They play club soccer together during the off-season and have been playing together since elementary school. Their chemistry was evident on the field against the Tigers.
During the game’s sixth minute, Zarate and Solis orchestrated a nice two-man game that ended in a goal by Solis. The goalie just couldn’t react quickly to both players applying pressure in the box. Seconds later, two Woodlake players had a chance to do the exact same thing but Aztecs sophomore goalkeeper Alberto Guadalupe made a great play on the ball to block the shot. Outside of the lone goal scored by the Tigers in the 74th minute, the Farmersville defense was stellar all night. They made it difficult for Woodlake to get any penetration.
Meanwhile on the other end of the field, which is where the ball stayed for a majority of the game, the Aztecs dribbled with ease through the Tiger defense. They dominated in the “shots on goal” category and would have scored more points if it weren’t for some misfires.
In the 30th minute, Zarate and Solis once again orchestrated the two-man game but this time it was Zarate ending with the goal. “They’re special players,” an assistant coach said on the sideline after one of the goals. They were up 2-0 heading into halftime.
Seven minutes into the second half, the Aztecs were back applying an immense amount of pressure on Woodlake’s defense. Within one minute, they had three consecutive strong shots on goal, but they were either mistimed or too strong. Two minutes later, they finally found the back of the net. Zarate passed to Solis who fought with the goalie for the ball before finally getting it past him. That put the Aztecs up 3-0 and seemingly sucked the life out of the Tigers chances at a share of first-place in the ESL.
“They outplayed us, we were a bit flat and didn’t play our game…we got sucked into their game,” Woodlake head coach Luis Balderas said. “We’ve beat this team before. We’ve showed we’re just as good and can hang with them, we just need to get back to our style of soccer.”
Both teams will begin a playoff push beginning next week. Farmersville is the No. 1 seed in the Division V valley playoffs, meaning that they’ll enjoy home field advantage throughout. The first game was Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 6pm against Mojave. Woodlake is the No. 10 seed in Division IV and will travel to McFarland at the same time. The final scores were reached after press time.