Ebubechukwu Ekpemogu prepares for a shot on goal against Liberty of Madera.

As if things haven’t been challenging enough when facing the Garces boys soccer team, the returning BVarsity All-Area player of the year appears to be getting healthy.

Senior Ebubechukwu Ekpemogu, who has seen limited action this season due to a strained right quad, scored two goals in less than a minute in a 5-1 victory over Bakersfield High on Friday night.

Ekpemogu, who is committed to play at Cal State Bakersfield next year, is reportedly still not 100 percent. But having him on the pitch is good news for the Rams (12-2, 2-0), who opened Southwest Yosemite League by outscoring their two opponents 10-1. He scored 43 goals in 32 games last year in leading Garces to the Division V regional championship.

In his absence, the Rams have continued to keep rolling along. Junior Alexander Halevy has 18 goals and nine assists, while senior teammate Moises Cisneros has added 15 goals and 12 assists.

Garces’ strongest competition in league play figures to be from Liberty (7-5-2, 2-0), which posted two SWYL wins this year, as well. The two are scheduled to play Friday at Garces in a 6 p.m. match.

Outside of league play, the Rams only two losses came against a pair of Southeast Yosemite League opponents, Foothill and Highland.

The Trojans defeated Garces 3-1 in the Rebel Winter Classic earlier last month, and has yet to taste defeat this season. Foothill (12-0-2), which won the Central Section Division 4 title last year, defeated South and North this week, and will play the Scots (11-3-1, 2-0) on Wednesday at Highland.

The Scots defeated Garces in overtime on Jan. 3, and posted wins over North and Mira Monte to run their wins streak to six games.

Quick start on the mountain

Tehachapi (5-1-2, 2-0) has already equalled its win total from last year in South Yosemite League play with a pair of victories last week. The Warriors, who were 2-6-2 last season in the SYL, defeated Independence and Bakersfield Christian last week.

Tehachapi is joined in first place by Golden Valley (8-3-1, 2-0), which defeated defending league champion Ridgeview in overtime and Independence last week. The Warriors will host the Bulldogs on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Two-team race for SSL boys?

Chavez and Arvin have elevated themselves above the rest after the first two weeks of South Sequoia League play. The Titans (9-6-1, 4-0-1) defeated the Bears (7-3-3, 3-1-1) 1-0 last month and have outscored their SSL opponents 14-2 thus far.

Shafter, which lost to Arvin 1-0 and tied Chavez, could also be in the mix as teams look to round out the first half of SSL play.

Patriot power

The Liberty girls soccer team continued its Southwest Yosemite League dominance with two victories last week, extending its league unbeaten streak to 26 games. The Patriots (4-2-2, 2-0) haven’t lost in SWYL action since a 2-1 defeat at Centennial almost three years ago.

Liberty outscored its opponents 5-0 last week and looks to extend the streak with games at Stockdale on Wednesday and at home against Garces on Friday. Both matches are scheduled for 6 p.m.

Bakersfield (4-3-2, 1-0-1) and the Mustangs (5-4-2, 1-0-1) are lurking in second place. The two teams tied 1-1 in their match at Stockdale on Wednesday.

Blades headline competitive SEYL

East girls soccer (17-1-2, 2-0) opened Southeast Yosemite League with victories over Mira Monte and South, setting up a three-way atop the league standings after the first week of action.

Foothill (8-6-1, 2-0) and Highland (8-6-1, 2-0) were also perfect last week. The Trojans host the Scots and Blades this week, so things are going to get a lot more interesting. Highland at East square off the following week.

Wolf Pack unscathed

Ridgeview is the only South Yosemite League girls soccer team to survive the first week of league play without a blemish. The Wolf Pack(7-4-2, 2-0) defeated Golden Valley and West by a combined 7-0, but has tough games against second-place Bakersfield Christian (7-1-2, 1-0-1) and Tehachapi (4-7, 1-1) scheduled for this week.

The Eagles tied the Vikings 2-2 in the SYL opener on Tuesday and then beat the Warriors 3-2 on Thursday.

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