The unbeaten Tigers also survived intense matches against perennial playoff powers Ceres High and Central Valley High.
Still, coach Greg Hartsell says there’s much about his team that has failed to meet his expectations, despite a 4-0-1 record.
On Tuesday, the ninth-year coach huddled with his players near midfield following the team’s win against the visiting Central Catholic Raiders.
“We had a better effort in the second half,” Hartsell said. “But we have to treat each game like it’s our last. Championship-caliber teams do not put forth a lack of effort and energy like we started off with in this game. We need to play with a sense of urgency.”
After upending Ceres, 2-0, on Thursday, Sept. 20, the Tigers played 40 scoreless minutes against Central Catholic and then dug in for another confidence-boosting win.
The turnaround seemed to begin with Hartsell challenging the team’s athletes during halftime to show more intensity after the intermission.
“We need to take each game, each opponent seriously,” Hartsell said. “When we started (Tuesday), I could tell that our heads weren’t entirely in the game. We came out lazy. We weren’t communicating.”
In the 44th minute, Patterson junior Wilver Barajas rocketed a shot from inside the goalkeeper’s box, on the right side. The ball ricocheted off Central Catholic’s goalie and then off the post, where Andres Herrera pounced on the rebound from close range and booted a shot to the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
However, it was Patterson’s second goal, in the 56th minute, that earned the biggest reaction from the hometown crowd.
A Patterson player sent a cross into the box, and Herrera hit it with a bicycle kick, sending the ball off the post. The sophomore threw his body into the air, making a shearing movement with his legs to send one foot high overhead and drive the ball behind him.
The shot made it through a jumble of players in front of the Raiders’ goal, where senior Kiki Gonzalez waited. Gonzalez flicked the ball past Central Catholic’s keeper for a two-goal advantage.
Their coach, still emotional about flaws in the game against Central Catholic and the role his athletes played in the slow start to the contest, didn’t hold back during his post-game talk when discussing Patterson’s struggles on the pitch.
“I was hoping that Central Catholic would have put a goal in. That would have lit a fire under us,” Hartsell said. “This game shows that there are still lots of things that we have to talk about and work on. We’ll address those things at practice.”
With a tough slate of road matches ahead, Hartsell hopes his team can finish the regular season strong.
“To reach our ultimate goal, we’ll need a much better effort in the second half of the season,” Hartsell said. “We are out to win league — we want to be on top.”
The Tigers will continue their season at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, when they travel to Los Banos to face the Pacheco High Panthers.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.