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Cougar Soccer Squads Close Out Campaign
Needing at least one victory in their final two games to make it to the postseason, the ball just didn't bounce the Cougars' way, and the varsity soccer squad closed its campaign with a tie and a loss.

"It was a disappointing end to the season," said coach Paul Silva. "We were done in with our inconsistent play."

At times, said Silva, the squad seemed poised to make a run at the league leaders, but other times, couldn't buy a goal. They had to battle from behind to earn a 4-4 draw with Hughson on Oct. 15, then fell in a 2-0 decision at Hilmar on Oct. 17 to seal their fate.

"That was a game we had to win to make playoffs," Silva added of the 2-0 loss on the road.

With early pressure on the Hilmar team, the Cougars looked like they might make it to that second season.

"The first 20 minutes, we were creating lots of chances and really dominating," the coach explained. "Then we took an injury to Octavio Valladolid, he's my defensive midfielder and when he went out, the whole flow of the game changed."

Hilmar capitalized on the difference and scored a single goal in each half. Escalon, however, couldn't answer back.

"It seemed like this year, we would score a bunch of goals or we didn't hit the back of the net," Silva said of the up and down nature of the team.

Lance Konzen made six saves in goal against the Yellowjackets in the finale.

In Monday's game, Escalon was down 2-1 at the half, a Hugo Cervantes score the lone tally in the opening period.

"In the first minute of the second half, we scored, Ignacio Plascencia got the goal assisted by Luis Chavez to tie it up," said Silva.

But Hughson tallied two more to make it 4-2 and push the Cougars to the brink. Two more goals from Cervantes, one unassisted and the other on a helper from Juan Vazquez, got the host team even and made Wednesday's game a possible ticket to the postseason.

Dervin Murphy made three saves in the first half for Escalon, Konzen had four in the second half.

"It was back and forth, trading chances, we just couldn't finish," Silva explained. "We scored four times, we should have scored more."

Though the Cougars have completed their season (they have a league bye scheduled today, Oct. 24) Silva said the future looks bright, with several key players this year being underclassmen and a number of players ready to make the jump up from the JV level.

"We had a pretty young team, we should be in good shape next season," he said.

Junior Varsity

Coach Chris Oliveira knew what he was talking about. When his JV team was battling through a winless league campaign last year, he told the guys they were good and to keep pushing on, keep working hard.

This year, the dividends of that hard work became clear, as the young Cougars were the top JV team in the league at 5-1-2 and enjoyed a 7-7-2 overall campaign. Closing out their season against Hughson on Oct. 15, it was a decisive 4-1 final.

"It was exciting and I was happy for the kids, they deserved it," Oliveira said.

Up 2-0 at halftime, the JV squad allowed an early second half score to give Hughson some hope at 2-1, but they quickly took control and walked off with the 4-1 victory.

Three goals came from Aaron Serrano and one from Fabricio Gutierrez, with assists from Carlos Cruz, Everardo Peralta, Frankie Olson and Celerino Ruiz.