Stallions gallop to playoff opening win
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Edgar Arvizu (21) battles with a Paso Robles opponent for possession during Tuesday’s playoff win.
Just give the Madera South Stallions boys soccer team a chance in the playoffs and they’ll show their worth.
It was only a few years ago that Madera South dominated the competition en route to a Valley Championship and a NorCal State Championship.
Although this year is different with a young squad and a hectic season, the sixth-seeded Stallions opened their 2021 Div. II playoff campaign with a 3-0 victory over 11th-seeded Paso Robles.
Edgar Arvizu, Gerardo Becerra, and Raul Arzola all got on the scoresheet as the Stallions put one past in the first half and two more in the second.
This season, the Stallions have had their ups and downs opening games, but when the playoff whistled sounded, Madera South was already reaching top form.
“The boys were game- ready from the start. We have had issues being consistent from beginning of games, but this game just felt different,” Madera South head coach Enrique Garcia said. “The boys were prepared mentally and emotionally for this type of game and that just gave them more confidence to be able to score early.”
Madera South’s confidence was evident from the jump. Crisp passes, aggressive movement up the pitch and the technical ability to match, Paso Robles was in for a tough night and that was the story of the game from the beginning.
Madera South’s ability to play on the wings, but also break down the opponent through the center channels forced the Bearcats to pick their poison allowing Arvizu to open the scoring early with a confident right-footed finish inside the Paso Robles final third.
The Stallions had a simple game plan — don’t hold back.
“Paso Robles was definitely a well-balanced program. very disciplined and well coached. Our game plan was simple, just go out there and give everything we got, no more holding back, play as a team and play for another,” Garcia said.
Even after controlling the game and heading into halftime up a goal, Garcia wanted to see improvements and, like he’s shown during his tenure at Madera South, he knows how to get it right.
The Stallions went on in the second half and added to their lead.
“We fixed some stuff at halftime and that just helped us score two more to close out the game,” he said.
Becerra and Arzola capped off the day with a goal each in the second half, capitalizing off team play. Madera South’s ability to transition from defense to attack proved to be key as they neutralized the Bearcats forwards and exposed their center backs.
Despite an up and down season, the Stallions still have much to play for. Regardless of how much experience Madera South has as a whole, when on the pitch, the experience comes out.
If any team knows about coming into the playoffs and stringing good performances together, it’s Madera South.
And for head coach Garcia, he’s still got a lot of coaching to do this season.
“My message to the team is simply I’m not done with the seniors. I’m not done with this team. The sky is the limit with this team and if they want it they can get it. From coaches to players we are just ready to leave it all on the field because the next practice isn’t for sure so every practice/game/moment together is just that much more important to us.”