For the third time this season, the Madera and Madera South boys soccer teams faced off on the pitch and for the second time, the Stallions took the victory.
Both schools took time before the match at Memorial Stadium to honor the seniors who dedicated their time and effort to help build their respective programs.
“It was a very emotional night, but I told the team to just enjoy the moment,” Madera South head coach Enrique Garcia said. “Enjoy the fact that this might be the last time you play at home and to just enjoy the moment and fight for our boys soccer crest. Every senior showed it out there and every underclassman showed it out there.”
The Stallions finished the season 19-5-1 and in second place within the County/Metro Athletic Conference, while the Coyotes finished the season 10-11-2, which was an eight-win improvement over last season.
Carlos Cardenas and Arturo Zavala combined to power the Stallions to their season-finale win over the Coyotes, however, the mastermind behind the two strikes was CMAC Most Valuable Player contender, Christian Garcia, who assisted on both goals.
The midfielder ended his CMAC career the only way he knew how — with a victory. As a four-year varsity member, Garcia has been a part of 84 goals — scoring 44 and assisting on 40.
Madera’s lone goal came late in the second half after a Ryan Da Rocha’s free kick narrowly missed the target, allowing Jonah Hill to charge the net for the goal.
Overall, it was not a night the Coyotes expected, but to be able to honor a group of seniors that helped changed the trajectory of the program was important.
“The seniors that have spent the last four years here in this program have been a joy to coach. It’s been an incredible honor to know them as people and not just student athletes,” Madera head coach Nic Landeros said. “They will always have a place in my heart, and I hope that in one way or another, I’ve made an impact on their life as well.”
Both Madera squads battled for the upper hand in the first half, but neither team took advantage until the final minutes of the first half.
With a frenzied crowd for both schools, a goal-less first half was creating a sense of anxiousness, until Garcia led the Stallions to an opener seconds before the halftime whistle blew.
Garcia found Cardenas, who made an intelligent run in the opponent final third, for the first goal of the rivalry match.
After a single goal in the first half, the teams picked up their sense of urgency as the game went on in the second half.
However, Hill and Adrian Rocha caused havoc on consecutive possessions as they pushed the ball into the Madera South penalty area.
Already leading, the Stallions made it 2-0 after Garcia took a ball out onto the wing before he sent in a cross towards goal. The ball whizzed into the penalty area where Zavala was waiting for what would be the game-winning goal.
Although a midfielder, Garcia’s ability to relocate on the pitch effectively created the second goal of the match.
Da Rocha stepped up and took a free kick from 20 yards out after being tripped up by a Stallion defender a run.
Da Rocha sent his shot over the Stallions’ wall. The ball bounced off the underside of the crossbar and into the path of Hill who created a mosh pit in the penalty area.
The commotion forced the Stallions into a tough situation, unable to clear the ball. Hill grabbed the goal but couldn’t muster anything else after Madera South closed out the rest of the match to take the final meeting between the schools.