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Elk Grove Citizen

Herd soccer loses heart-breaker in Div. II semi to Golden Valley

Feb 16, 2024 06:40AM ● By John Hull

Photo by Ray Iaea

Angad Singh had an open net late in the second half but the ball was tapped away from him right outside the goal box in Elk Grove's 2-1 loss to Golden Valley in the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division II semi-final game Feb. 15.

Elk Grove (MPG) – When following your favorite sports team, the one adage to recall is that no one wins the last game of the season except the one who takes the championship game. The Feb. 15 2-1 loss in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division II semi-finals by the Elk Grove boys soccer team is one of those examples.

The defeat at the hands of Golden Valley High School of Merced can be likened to losing a basketball game by one point when the opponent makes a three-pointer from long range at the horn.

The time on the scoreboard clock was frozen at 2:00. The game was in “extra time.” The guy with the timer was the referee. No one knew exactly how much time was on his wristwatch. Both the Cougars and the Thundering Herd were playing at a furious pace, tied at one goal apiece.

Elk Grove had a golden opportunity to take the lead in that extra time when the Golden Valley goalkeeper slipped down and the Herd’s top scorer, Angad Singh, had the ball with an empty net in front of him just outside the goal box. But, at the last moment in slid one of the Cougar defensemen to kick the ball out of from under Singh and across the end line.

Then moments later with Golden Valley on the attack, the Cougars’ Joshua Perez took a cross-field pass from the team’s top scorer, Carlos Miranda, and rifled it into the Elk Grove nets. As the Cougars celebrated, the referee whistle went off. The game and the Herd’s season were over.

The number three seed defeated the number two seed. The Herd players, almost without fail, went to the ground in disbelief and shock while the Cougars and its fans celebrated on the east side of Thunder Stadium.

To make it worse the game was marred with continual shoves and bumps on both sides. The yellow cards, though, pretty much stayed in the referee’s pocket. Numerous free kicks were called for the offended team, but the guy wearing the lime green jersey let them play, even on collisions that left players laying on the turf for a prolonged period. If it was American football, there would have been pass interference, roughing the kicker and clipping penalties galore.

The student section on the Elk Grove side was loaded with comments for Golden Valley players. Early in the game, the referee and a linesman stopped play and headed over to the home bleachers to say something to the students.

That really didn’t do much.

At the 24-minute mark of the second half, the Cougars got on the board when Miranda scored his 42nd goal of the season. In jubilation he and a handful of his teammates then ran onto the running track, a few feet away from the Herd student section and started trash talking. They were greeted with a chorus of middle fingers.

Calmer heads quickly prevailed, and the Cougars quickly headed back to their own side of the pitch.

While Golden Valley moved on to face top-seeded Del Oro in the Division II final on Feb. 24, Elk Grove’s Johnny Cuatecontzi did what he could to console his emotionally wrecked team afterwards. He pulled together the boys along with the parents to passionately thank them for their 10-5-7 season which included the school’s first playoff win in 19 years.

“It hurts to see (the players) cry, but they wanted it so bad,” he said. “One thing I taught the boys from day one – they’re not boys, they’re men – life is going to hit us hard. And at the end of the day, it’s a game, yes, it’s a life lesson for the boys. (The parents) have supported us from day one. There’s absolutely no words for a loss like this. All I can say is I am proud of them.”

Valley boys, Franklin girls advance

Meanwhile across town, the No. 1 seeded Valley Vikings took its Division III semi-final, 1-0, over Rio Linda Feb.15. The Vikings will advance to the Section championship game Feb. 22 at Cosumnes River College against No. 7 Pacheco. Valley is now 23-4-4 going into that game.

On the girls’ side, Franklin, the number one seed in Division I, takes on No. 4 Del Oro at 6 p.m. Friday in one semi-final game. In the other semi-final No. 2 Inderkum hosts No. 3 Davis.