SOCCER: Panthers, Miners tie for second in EYL

The Porterville Panthers and the El Diamante Miners finish their final game of the season with a tie, both teams remain in second in the East Yosemite League

PORTERVILLE – The Porterville Panthers and El Diamante Miners end the season with a 1-1 tie after going to double overtime. Both teams finish the season second in the EYL.

In their final game of the season, the Panthers and the Miners faced off for second place in the EYL. After a scoreless first half, the Panthers finally scored early in the second off of a free kick just outside the goal box. The Miners were nearly knocked out of the second place spot they have held most of the season, but sophomore Jackie Saechao scored in the final 15 minutes of the game. The goal sent both teams into overtime and neither one managed to score in the two extra periods.

“After our loss to Golden West on Monday, I think it did give them motivation going into [the game against Porterville],” El Diamante head coach Brooke Kurz said. “Obviously we would have loved to win. But with a tie I think it will just give some more motivation going into the playoffs next week.”

Both teams found motivation to break the tie and played a fast-paced game. Neither team clearly dominated possession of the ball, which allowed both offenses several chances to score and break the tie. The first goal from Porterville was early in the second half when the Panthers were allowed a free kick just outside of the goal box. If the ball had been a few feet closer to the goal, it would have been a true penalty kick. But regardless of distance, the Porterville striker sent the ball sailing over freshman goalie Skye Mendivil’s outstretched hands to make it 1-0 as if she had been taking a penalty kick.

The Miners quickly looked to respond. With less than 30 minutes to go, they needed to score twice for the win. Saechao knocked the ball into the net off of a corner kick from junior Taylor Vandergriff with a few minutes remaining. The Miners and Panthers headed into overtime to break two ties: the score of the game and the EYL rankings. Unfortunately, they were still scoreless after the extra 20 minutes of play.

“We kind of started off a little bit slower than I wanted to, but going into the second half, going into overtime, we really picked up our game, we started counting passes better,” Kurz said. “We just kept going back and forth. It just didn’t end up for either of us. We just ended in a tie.”

As of the final games on Feb. 8, Redwood retains their top spot, followed by El Diamante and Porterville. Golden West, Monache and Mt. Whitney take the final three spots in the rankings, but only the top teams will go to playoffs.

El Diamante made it to the second round of playoffs last year, but a few seniors graduated, so the team is younger this year. Kurs is hoping for the highest seed possible to get the home field advantage, but has prepared the team for traveling to other schools in order to pursue the longest playoff run possible.

“I’m anticipating we’ll be in division two, just a lower seed,” Kurs said. “They will have big shoes to fill because we’ll most likely be placed against a higher seeded team. But they understand what’s on the line.”

Porterville is in a similar boat as they wait for brackets to be announced. Last year they lost 7-0 in the first round to Arvin high school and are itching for a chance to go further in the playoffs. Playing aggressive soccer in double-overtime in the final game before playoffs can be exhausting, but fortunately the teams have a week off before their first playoff game. Brackets will come out on Feb. 11 and the first game will be Feb. 15.

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