Despite the biting cold of the first really frigid night of late fall and the lack of either team coming away with a victory, score it a win for Liberty and Golden Valley.
Just two weeks into the regular season, both boys soccer head coaches are seeking for as many quality matches as they can get, and it doesn’t get much better than these two former league rivals that are both in the Central Section Division I playoffs.
Liberty struck first in the 27th minute on a short goal by Dylan Graves off a deflection and Golden Valley scored the equalizer just five minutes later on a header by Noe Avalos in a 1-1 tie at Liberty on Tuesday.
“It’s always good to play these teams in Division I,” Golden Valley coach Dominic Othart said. “It gives us something to look for when it comes to playoffs. Liberty is great squad and a good team with good chemistry. It’s always good to have an early season match like this.”
Now with seven Kern County teams in the D-I bracket in boys soccer, getting a common opponent on the schedule is key for playoff ramifications and for coaches and players alike to see where they excel and what they need to work on before league play begins.
“That’s one of the reasons we have (Golden Valley) on the schedule is they always have a solid team,” Liberty coach Jay Gore said. “It’s important for the playoffs in terms of common opponent and what we can get out of them and what they can get out of us. It brings that extra intensity to games that we need early on.”
Liberty finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Southwest Yosemite League at 8-2 last season before an opening round loss to Clovis West in the playoffs.
The Patriots lost leading scorer Anthony Smith to graduation, but senior Kobe Franks leads the way for Liberty (1-1-1) this time around.
“We played well. Definitely could have done better,” Franks said. “But that’s what we play them early.”
Golden Valley finished third in the South Yosemite League last winter and, like Liberty, were ousted in the opening round of the D-I playoffs.
Othart lost BVaristy All-Area first teamer Kike Aguilar, now playing for Cal State Bakersfield, but returns a large majority of the roster, much to his delight.
“We have a lot of experience coming back. A lot of starters,” Othart said. “It’s going to be a long season, but we have some good potential with some good players that are dedicated and put in time at practice. That’s all I can ask for.”
Golden Valley has stacked the non-league slate with tournaments in Clovis, like last week at the Harold S. Young Tournament at Buchanan High and next weekend at the Clovis Cougar Classic Showcase while Liberty was successful winning their own tournament over the weekend as both teams are continue to gear up for league play.
“It helps a bunch with getting the competitive spirit up and seeing what we need to work on,” Franks said. “Even playing good teams and losing. We have to learn to deal with that and get better.”
Liberty goalkeeper Bradon Nilsson had five saves as did Golden Valley keeper Alexis Leon.