The Centennial and Garces boys soccer teams are on opposite spectrums in terms of Central Section playoff seeding speculations.
With the playoffs beginning in two weeks, the up-and-coming Rams are thought of as the top team in Division V while the Golden Hawks are just wondering where they could land in a remarkably deep D-I field.
The two programs walked off the field on Tuesday night at Centennial with perplexed looks as a heated contest ended in a 2-2 tie.
“Neither team is happy. We probably both deserve to win. We should have both won,” Centennial coach Jeff Vaughn said. “We went up two times and then just sat back and played scared and they capitalized.”
Centennial (8-6-5, 2-3-2) came into the match projected as the 14-seed in the D-I playoffs by MaxPreps.com computer rankings.
Four of the teams higher ranked than the Golden Hawks are part of the 13 schools that were added to the section before the school year from the Central Coast.
“It’s not the old guard. What’s going to be nice is the Central Coast is going to be able to knock off some teams,” Vaughn said. “We here in Bakersfield will do our part and I think (those schools in Fresno County) will find it harder to run through Valley.”
The Golden Hawks took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half on a goal by Juan Jimenez that was assisted by Josiah Crews.
The lead held for nearly 60 minutes before Moises Cisneros found the back of the net for the Rams (18-2-4, 5-2-1) off a corner kick in extra time just before the end of regulation, sending the match into overtime in a 1-1 tie.
“It was just about getting us a point to keep up near the top of the table in league,” Garces coach Robbie Gouk said.
Thirty seconds into overtime, senior P.J. Morales powered a kick into the net to give the Golden Hawks the lead once again. But freshman Palmer Bank scored the equalizer for Garces despite playing handicapped after the Rams were called for a red card during overtime.
Garces, second in league behind Stockdale with two matches left in the regular season, is the top-ranked team in D-V.
Ebu Ekpemogu leads Garces with 37 goals, but was held scoreless on Tuesday, while Cisneros has 19 goals and 16 assists.
“This is the second time Centennial has done an excellent job in keeping Ebu contained,” Gouk said.
Knowing that the league the Rams play in is much tougher than likely what the Rams will see in the playoffs makes Gouk confident his team can make a deep run next month in the postseason.
“We come with that mindset every game,” Goak said. “When we step on the field, we want to be the best. We want to win. Ultimately, yes, we are looking at the playoffs, but our league sets us up perfectly for that.”