Despite falling to El Diamante in the season finale, the Trailblazers hold on to win their league
VISALIA – For the second year in a row, Golden West beat out Lemoore for the West Yosemite League crown. Although there were several teams within striking distance of first place, it was the Trailblazers’ 2-1 win over Lemoore in overtime that sealed league championship.
About a week and a half ago, Golden West traveled to Lemoore in a game that had a strong possibility of determining the league champion. Both teams knew it and that is likely the reason for the intense atmosphere. The Blazers scored in the final seven minutes of overtime to come out with the victory.
Golden West got on the board in the first 20 minutes of the game and they kept the momentum until around the 65th minute. At that point, Lemoore scored and suddenly the energy was on their side. They did everything they could to avoid overtime, but the Blazer defense stood tall. Their offense helped them out in a major way in the extra periods. According to head coach John McCaw, he believes his squad was the dangerous team in overtime and they even hit the goal post a few times. With six minutes to go in overtime, Golden West nailed a penalty kick that essentially won them the league crown. They also won the league last year in a similar way. They defeated Lemoore 3-0 at the end of the season to bring home the title.
To officially clinch the championship, the Blazers had to win one of their two remaining games. They were fortunate enough to defeat Hanford 3-0 but then loss 2-0 to El Diamante in the season finale.
Since the league crown was already clinched, it was evident that the team’s intensity level was not as high against the Miners.
“I don’t know if our minds were 100% into it, but the other guys played harder than us and deserved to win,” Shaffer said. “We looked a bit disorganized at times which didn’t help us. We were very average and their goalie made a couple of really good saves.”
The Miners goalie held the Trailblazers scoreless and was seemingly always in the right place at the right time. In the 22nd minute, the ball actually came inside the net but his quick reflexes sprang into action and he prevented it from hitting the back of the net. In the 30th minute, he blocked a penalty kick that would have been the first point of the night.
The El Diamante offense struggled to get good looks in the first half but bounced back nicely after the break. In the 56th minute, they scored on a well-placed shot from the right side of the field. Ten minutes later, they scored again on a good shot from about 15-yards out. Those two goals were enough to win the game.
The Trailblazers will now head into the Division I valley playoffs as a No. 7 seed. They hosted Golden Valley at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11. El Diamante is the No. 10 seed down in Division II and will travel to Madera at the same time on the same day. The final scores were reached after press time.