Redwood takes Division II championships game in 2-0 win over Golden Valley Bulldogs
VISALIA – There was little Golden Valley could do to stop Redwood’s momentum en route to a Ranger Valley title.
Redwood came into the Division II championship game riding an 11-game winning streak, having scored at least two goals in all but three of their games, home field advantage and boasting a 21-5-1 record. The Golden Valley Bulldogs came in knowing they were the only team to play Redwood to a tie but it wasn’t enough to avoid being shutout 2-0 by the Rangers.
“It’s a surreal moment for a player at such a young age,” Redwood head coach Joey Chica said.
Championship excitement filled the bowl as more than 400 people were in attendance for both teams. It was a physical game from the start. Redwood got the first opportunity to score just six minutes into the game. The Rangers’ corner kick attempt was almost tapped in on a header but instead bounced over the goal. The Rangers got another chance in the ninth minute. This time Gavin House didn’t need any help as his corner kick reached the back of the goal giving Redwood a 1-0 lead.
“It was pretty exciting,” House said. “I think it just set the tone on the rest of the game.”
Redwood was ready on defense as well. The Bulldogs attempted to answer the Rangers’ goal with their own corner kick but was stopped by Redwood goalie Julian Vicente.
The stop seemed to spark a new level of intensity from both teams knowing opportunities might be scarce to score a victory in the championship game. In the 26th minute, Rangers’ forward Ernesto Pacheco got a breakaway play passing the ball to an open Jacob Mccullough. The Redwood striker sent the ball past Golden Valley’s goalie giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead over the Bulldogs. Golden Valley attempted to end the first half with a score of their own but a penalty kick was stopped by the goalie.
“Play for your seniors, play for your team, this could be your last game and you don’t want to go home empty-handed because your fans come out and your family comes out to support you,” Golden Valley head coach Marshall Garcia told his team at halftime.
After a very Ranger-dominant first half, there seemed to be new life in the Bulldogs in the second half. In the 50th minute of the game, the Bulldogs got a corner kick that almost ended up reaching the back of the goal but was stopped once again by Redwood’s goalie. The real story for Golden Valley in the second half was their defense. The Rangers continued to attack Golden Valley’s goal but Redwood kept running into Bulldog defenders.
Tempers on the field started to rise in the 57th minute of the game when Redwood’s Gavin House was awarded a yellow card for pleading his case to the referee in what some fans said was a questionable call. In the 64th minute, House got a brutal kick to the nose, halting the game for the injury. Despite having their star player sidelined, the Rangers’ defense was able to complete the shutout and secure a Valley title for Redwood.
“These boys came in every day, they worked hard, they did what they were supposed to do and it shows all the hard work they had done from the summer up until now,” Chica said.
Redwood’s season isn’t done yet as the Rangers will look to extend their winning streak in the Southern California Boys Soccer Championship and a chance at a state title. Redwood played host to Pacifica High School in the first round on March 1. The game happened after press time.