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Honkers sting Yellowjackets in double OT
Two goals in the second overtime period gave the Willows High boys soccer team a 4-3 upset victory Friday against Williams in the first round of the Northern Section Division III playoffs.
Sophomore midfielder Fernando Cervantes' nifty footwork set up a Cesar Hernadez goal two minutes into the first 5-minute overtime, and Giovanni Guttierez kicked in a rebound two minutes later for a 4-2 Willows lead in the first overtime.
Williams senior Jose Ordonez scored on a penalty kick two minutes into the second 5-minute overtime, but the No. 3 Yellowjackets ran out of time and the No. 6 Honkers advanced to the second round, where they will face No. 2 University Prep at 6:30 p.m. today in Redding.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy, every playoff game means a lot to every team out here," Willows coach Jose Cano said.
The Honkers took a 2-0 lead in the first half on goals by Guttierez and Cervantes, before Williams forced overtime with two second-half goals by sophomore forward Alex Gomez.
"I told the kids, be ready to go the first 10-15 minutes because those 10 minutes you can put a team away, but you have to put a team away from beginning to the end," Cano said.
Neither team scored in the first overtime, spanning two 10-minute halves, before avoiding a penalty kick shootout by combining for three goals in the two 5-minute halves of double-overtime.
Honkers goalkeeper Josue Valenzuela played a major role in the victory, making a key save on a cross in injury time at the end of regulation with three Williams players behind him waiting to tap the ball in. All told, Valenzuela made 13 saves, many with a high degree of difficulty.
"They had one last shot and he came up big there too at the end, and here in overtime, he completely laid out, fully extended and made an incredible stop (on a free kick)," Cano said.
The Honkers remained focused despite a vocal Williams home contingent, which included a fan in the stands who was ejected for shouting at the referees, and were ready for the game to go to penalty kicks before scoring the two late goals, according to Cervantes.
"In the playoffs anything can happen. We can tie, we've got to be ready for penalties, you've got to be ready for everything."
Though Willows (10-6-4, 2-3-4 Sacramento Valley League) entered the game as the No. 6 seed, the Yellowjackets (10-4-1, 7-2-1 Mid-Valley League) knew they were in for a tough match. The Honkers opened the season with a 3-0 victory against Williams on Nov. 20 and played a tough pre-season schedule that included teams from Division I and II.
It was passing by the Honkers midfielders which set the tone early. Cervantes, a sophomore, had two assists to go with his first-half goal. Honkers captain Francisco Zepeda, who is one of just three seniors on the team, notched two assists from his midfield position.
"I think we can take it all we just have to communicate, talk more and more passing —passing makes perfect," Cervantes said.
The Yellowjackets switched formations in the second half, moving from a two forward, four defender formation to a three defender, three forward formation, to counter Willows' strength in the transition game.
Williams coach Renea Garcia coached his final game for the Yellowjackets, concluding a 9-year stint as their head coach. Garcia is stepping down because his daughter will be a freshman at Colusa High next year and he wants to be able to be there for her high school soccer career.
Garcia compiled an 88-41-22 record, winning two Sacramento Valley League — Two titles and one Northern Section title. The Yellowjackets had just one losing season during his time at Williams.
His biggest accomplishment, and the legacy he hopes to leave with the program, is academic stability. When Garcia first began coaching, the team lost a significant number of players to grades, but the players worked hard to improve their academic performance as well as their soccer skills, he said. In recent years, the team only loses a couple players to grades each year.
"The other thing I'm most proud of is we never lost to Colusa. I went to school in Colusa and was on one of the first soccer teams there," Garcia said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.