Improving to 7-3-2 in Western Athletic Conference play, third-place Patterson extended its unbeaten streak to seven.
The Tigers (10-8-2 overall) will head to Yuba City on Tuesday, May 7, to do battle with the two-seeded team from the Tri-County Conference River Valley High (12-5-2) in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
The top three teams in the league qualify for the Division III playoffs.
“I really can’t ask for more in regards to going into the playoffs on a high note,” Patterson coach Cade Tomasegovich said. “We just needed to get our foot in the door, and we have that now. I’m hoping this team is ready to buckle down and make the most of this opportunity.”
Heavy wind made playing attractive soccer a futile effort on Tuesday as Patterson and the Pacheco Panthers (2-10-1 WAC) played through gusts of more than 30 mph.
In the first half, the Tigers took advantage of the wind at their back.
On the attack in the third minute, senior Gracie Bradley’s pass found the foot of classmate Cristina Tinoco, who booted the ball to the back of the net using her right instep, for the game’s first score.
Senior Eliana Varela continued the Tigers’ surge with a goal in the 21st minute.
As a loose ball fell to her, the midfielder swiveled and shot the ball from about 30 yards out. Her effort caught the Pacheco keeper off her line, and she could only wave at the ball as it sailed into the goal.
The Tigers scored their third goal with just more than seven minutes to play in the opening half.
Senior Claudia Barron found the right cleat of Tinoco, who pushed up during the chaos of a loose ball. With a leap, and a flick of the foot, the ball traveled over the outstretched left arm of the Panthers keeper and into the netting on the right far post.
“For the seniors, this was our last regular season game. We knew we had to give it our all,” Tinoco said. “Most of us are going our separate ways after graduation. So this is our last shot to win as a team.”
Pacheco, meanwhile, struggled with the conditions, which made passing nearly impossible and wreaked havoc on any balls played through the air. Even passes on the ground were at the mercy of the wind. At one point, Pacheco’s keeper struggled to take a free kick when she couldn’t get the ball to sit still on the grass.
Patterson also made things difficult for Pacheco by using the wind to its advantage defensively. Knowing that every pass was unpredictable, the Tigers used high-pressure tactics to disrupt the Panthers flow and force quick decisions.
“On a day like today, the wind is a big factor,” Tomasegovich said. “It’s tough. For the most part we adjusted pretty well. We did a good job of playing the ball at our feet and not kicking it into the air.”
Near the 70th minute, Tinoco got her opportunity to record a hat trick.
Her blast had enough arc to elude the outstretched hands of a leaping Pacheco keeper, to land in the net.
“Going into the playoffs is real exciting for this team,” Tinoco said. “We believe that if we play our style of soccer, we can advance deep into the postseason.”
The JV Tigers upended host Pacheco, 4-0, Tuesday, April 30 to finish their regular season 9-1 and claim a first-place finish in the WAC, the team’s third league title in the past five seasons.
Paulina Gonzalez scored a pair of goals, while Tony Perez and Andrea Aguilar scored one goal each for Patterson.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.