With three goals within 20 minutes, the Madera South Stallions advanced to the quarterfinals of the Div. II Central Section playoffs.
The fifth-seeded Stallions scored a goal with five minutes left in the first half and added two more within the first 10 minutes of the second half Tuesday against the 12th-seeded Atascadero Greyhounds.
“We expected Atascadero to press us in the first five minutes, but we knew if we spread them out, someone would be open for the goal,” head coach Enrique Garcia said.
The Stallions, who won last year’s Div. III Central Section title and the NorCal State title, successfully bounced back from a regular-season finale loss that not only ended their chances at a County/Metro Athletic Conference title, but also ended their 25-match home unbeaten streak.
“That loss definitely humbled us,” Garcia said. “It was the closest we’ve ever been to league. It humbled the team that nothing is given. They had to re-focus to the team. It helped us become more together and strive forward. This was definitely a boost. It was heartbreaking we lost Senior Night and the CMAC title. Our biggest message title was we’ve been on the negative side and we’ve been in the position where we won it all. We definitely like the winning feeling and that’s what we’re striving.”
The Stallions next played No. 4 Paso Robles on Thursday. The winner will face either No. 1 Sanger or No. 9 Edison-Fresno on Tuesday.
Luis Diaz scored the first goal in the 35th minute to end a scoreless half.
“We usually play him at center mid. We put him out wide for tactical reasons and he did everything we asked for,” Garcia said. “Arturo Zavala got a great through ball and Luis made a good run. It was good confidence booster for the boys. It was definitely needed. We took 10 shots in the first half. Only about five shots were on goal. It was frustrating on sideline with the coaches.”
From there, the Stallions scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Diaz added his second goal and David Salas added a third goal in the 50th minute.
“We knew with that goal, we told the guys we had to go to the tactical touch,” Garcia said about the second goal. “We played the ball well out wide and transitioned it back to the middle.”