Playoff soccer has finally arrived at Patterson High’s doorstep as the varsity boys team prepares to attempt another deep run in Division III of the Sac-Joaquin Section (SJS).
The Tigers finished the season in second place in the Western Athletic Conference with an overall record of 13-3-3 and an 8-2-2 record in the WAC.
Patterson earned the third seed in the SJS Division III playoffs, giving them home-field advantage for their first game of the 2015 postseason. “It’s huge. I wouldn’t play want to play on any other field,” head coach Luis Torres said, commenting on the advantage of playing at home. “It’s a fast pitch so it’s to our advantage. The players feel a lot more comfortable. They know how the stadium feels, how the ball rolls, and they use it to our advantage.”
Traveling from Sacramento to greet the Tigers Tuesday night was Luther Burbank High School. The Burbank Titans finished in third place in the Metropolitan Conference with a 10-5-3 record overall and an 8-3-3 record in league play. The Titans were ranked as the fourteenth seed coming into playoffs.
The chilly night had no effect on the fiery Tigers’ offense, which opened up against the Titans, toppling them 4-0 and advancing Patterson to the next round of the playoffs.
With the Tigers unable to capture a WAC title during the regular season, there is only one goal left for the perennial WAC contenders.
“I told them right away and even throughout the first part of the warm-up as well that this is their last shot. We didn’t get to win league, but we placed second and that put us in the playoffs,” Torres said. “I kept telling them this is one of the last goals on the table so it’s do or die at this moment. You win, you’re in. You lose and you’re out.”
The 2015 Tigers’ identity has thus far been centered around their stout defense, and while the defensive unit, alongside senior Carlos Moreno minding the net, produced yet another clean sheet, Patterson’s offensive burst Tuesday is a strong sign that the Tigers’ offense may be peaking at the right moment.
Torres explained some of the adjustments that were made that stretched a 1-0 lead at halftime to a trio of goals in the second half.
“There was a couple of game plans whether we were pressing them high or playing the direct ball and we noticed that they were giving us enough space, so we changed that in the second half and started building the play a lot more,” Torres said.
Coming into the second half with a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from junior Jesus Lopez the adjustments made by Patterson greatly increased the offensive production. The Tigers were able to work more fluidly against the Titan defense, leading to goals from senior Anthony Arevalo in the 41st minute, sophomore Francisco Mendoza in the 56th minute and senior Robert Rodriguez in the 60th minute.
With Patterson missing starters Kevin Diaz and Jose Ramirez, the coaching staff was forced to give some of their bench players more minutes. “The substitutions came in strong so we dealt with it well,” Torres said.
Due to their victory, Patterson will host another playoff game Nov. 5 against the sixth seed in the SJS, East Union High School, at 6:30 p.m. in Patterson Community Stadium.
East Union finished with an overall 12-3-2 record in the regular season and a 9-3-2 in the Valley Oak League, earning the Lancers a fourth-place finish in their league.
Erick Torres can be reached at 892-6187 ext. 308 or email@example.com.