If momentum truly is key for a high school soccer team, then Golden Valley coach Dominic Othart has a team on the rise with just a week left in the regular season.
The Bulldogs defeated rival Ridgeview 3-1 at home on Tuesday to keep Golden Valley in contention for a South Yosemite League title. It was also a key victory for seeding purposes in the Central Section Division I playoffs, which begin in two weeks.
“It was a huge win for us tonight,” Othart said. “Not only because it is against our top rival.”
Othart’s reasoning is simple.
Ridgeview (13-4-2, 7-1) came into Tuesday’s action undefeated in league play and, according to MaxPreps.com computer rankings, was the top D-I team in Kern County. Ridgeview also beat Golden Valley, 1-0, on Jan. 11.
“That loss has really changed our season around,” Othart said. “We had a great meeting afterwards and decided to change up formation and the lineup a little bit. It’s been coming along and tonight was huge.”
It’s not the first marquee win of the year for Golden Valley (10-6-4, 6-2), but it could have the greatest impact on the Bulldogs season.
Golden Valley opened its season with wins over fellow D-I programs South and Centennial, but with two matches left in the regular season, the confidence that comes from Tuesday's victory could play a factor heading into the postseason.
“It’s great that the playoffs are right around the corner,” Othart said. “Whether (a league title) is in our sight or not, we’ve got a bigger picture here at this point with momentum moving forward and hopefully let it roll.”
Golden Valley needs a little help to secure at least a share of the league title. The Bulldogs must win out against Independence and Tehachapi, and need a loss from Ridgeview against West or East in the last week of the regular season.
But Othart wants his players to continue focusing on improvement with the D-I playoffs looming.
“You always want to win league, but Valley is always your biggest goal,” Othart said. “Any coaches that say they don’t want to go to Valley and not win is cutting their team short. League is in their hands. But we need to play out the season for obvious reasons. But this is huge for playoff seedings.”
Golden Valley scored twice in the first half.
Alex Garcia ripped a shot past leaping Ridgeview goalkeeper Frank Hinojosa for the opening goal in the first 15 minutes.
Ten minutes later, Jose Campos’ corner kick sailed into the net untouched for a rare goal off the corner.
“I have not seen one in several years on the guys’ side,” Othart said. “That was pretty incredible. It’s a well-placed corner. For Jose Campos, it was great placement for him.”
Noe Avalos scored the third and final goal for Golden Valley in the second half off a free kick.
“We really struggled and had some bad mistakes,” Ridgeview coach Phil Collignon said. “To be totally honest, we should have saved all three (goals) … It’s missed chances. It’s what happens when you play good D-I teams.”
Ridgeview’s lone goal was scored an own-goal against Golden Valley, keeping Alexis Leon from recording his fourth shutout in six league wins. Leon recorded three saves.
“It’s a big rivalry and the biggest competition we have in this league,” Leon said. “This boosts up a lot. They were undefeated in league and a really good team. But us beating them gives us a lot of confidence.”