The final pair of games in the season has developed into a race between Golden Valley and Patterson for the third playoff spot in the Central California Conference boys soccer standings.

Golden Valley got a leg up on the Tigers, defeating them last Thursday 1-0 to improve to 14 points in the standings to Patterson’s 13.

When Patterson hosted Buhach Colony on Tuesday evening at Patterson Community Stadium, the Tigers began their final push at playing for their playoff lives.

The Tigers looked sharp against the Thunder on Tuesday. Patterson looked invigorated as they made their final push on senior night, defeating Buhach Colony by a final of 2-1. The victory gives Patterson 16 points in the league standings heading into their final game on Thursday at El Capitan.

“Just trying to rebound from some tough games. We have a lot of injuries right now, and we’re still playing with some injured players. This team is just pushing through. They’re still battling. They’re still creating. They have heart…. they have a lot of heart,” head coach Luis Torres said following the much-needed victory. “They know what they’re working with. We’re limited on players. Some of them can’t play the full 80 minutes, and I told them this is where character stands out. You work with what you have, and you deal with the cards that you have on the table. That’s what they did today.”

Golden Valley also won on Tuesday over Atwater 5-0. The Cougars will maintain their one-point lead in the standings heading into the final game of the season on Feb. 7.

Patterson will need Golden Valley to tie or lose on Thursday in order to have a shot at the third playoff spot.

Should Golden Valley tie, then Patterson will need to win in order to surpass the Cougars. If Golden Valley loses, then a tie will even the two squads at 17 points in the standings, or a win will give Patterson the third spot outright.

In Tuesday’s match against Buhach Colony, Patterson senior Juan Perez staved off an early scare when he dove to save a header that had gotten past goalie Miguel Cortez. Luckily for the Tigers, Perez was there to save the day. Buhach Colony was awarded a corner kick off Perez’ save, but the Thunder could make nothing out of their early opportunity in the fifth minute of regulation.

Patterson then found their stride and went on the offensive. Freshman Jonathan Gallardo put a shot on goal in the ninth minute, but Buhach Colony senior Omar Hurtado made a nice save to deny the goal.

Junior Ricardo Jimenez snapped the tie when he got Patterson on the board with a goal in the 14th minute. His initial shot was rebuked, but the power on the shot caused the ball to bounce up and past Hurtado before rolling into the empty net.

Buhach Colony had promising opportunities in the 15th and 19th minutes, but a series of nice stops by Cortez and the Patterson defense preserved the lead.

Patterson had a barrage of shots near the goal in the 26th minute, but each shot was either deflected or slightly off target.

The score stayed at 1-0 until the final ten minutes of regulation.

Senior Sergio Anaya gave Patterson some insurance with a goal in the 72nd minute.

The Thunder got a late goal via a penalty kick. Senior Juan Valencia took the kick for the Thunder, before burying it in the net in the final minute of regulation.

“All these goals for the last four games have been PKs, nothing outstanding from the other team. We have to deal with that,” Torres said regarding the late penalty kick that was a blemish on an otherwise strong performance from Cortez and the Patterson defense.

Patterson will play second-place El Capitan for their final game of the regular season on Thursday. Patterson defeated El Capitan in a wild 5-3 finish during their last meeting on Jan. 19.

PI sports writer

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