KINGSBURG - After breaking a seven-game losing streak last week, the Kingsburg boys soccer team fell short of upsetting a first-place Selma squad in a 3-0 defeat on Jan. 25.
The Vikings dropped to 4-13 overall and 1-5 in Central Sequoia League play and the Bears improved to 14-5-3 and 5-1. Selma sweeps the season series over Kingsburg.
Kingsburg kept the game close with a 1-0 score at halftime, but Selma scored twice in the second half. Vikings head coach Steve Vargas thought his team put up a good defensive effort in the loss.
“Honestly, I think our team showed up,” Vargas said. “We played a very good game.”
A notable performer from Kingsburg was goalkeeper Henry Wildes, who Vargas says was “phenomenal” after notching multiple saves throughout the game.
“To me from what I’ve seen, he’s the best keeper in our league,” he said. “Our results don’t show that so it is what it is. I haven’t seen anybody better this year.”
Vargas said Wildes has been one of the best players on the team, but when the team doesn’t score “his performances are going to waste.” Outside of Wildes, the coach says the team has found its niche defensively.
Offensively, Vargas said the team needs to improve on attacking the ball and finishing offensive drives.
“We just had the difficulty on top scoring,” Vargas said. “Connecting on that final ball in the net is where we had our troubles.”
There’s two weeks left in the season for both Kingsburg and Selma squads and both are hoping for strong finishes. Both teams have four games remaining.
For the Vikings, Vargas said there’s still a chance for a playoff berth.
“I feel we could win out,” he said. “If we just start putting the ball in the net, we could play with any team in our league and we could beat any team in our league, but we just got to start finishing.”
Before the game against Selma, Kingsburg broke a seven-game losing streak against Immanuel in a 7-0 victory on Jan. 23.
“That was a real confidence builder coming into this game,” Vargas said about the win over Immanuel. “It got our focus back on track …and hopefully we could take advantage of it and pretty much finish strong.”
Next up for the Vikings is a road game against Exeter on Wednesday, Jan. 31, and then goes head-to-head against Dinuba on the road two days later.
For Selma, the Bears are tied for first place with Dinuba in the CSL standings, and both of those squads will play each other in the final game of the regular season on Feb. 8.
Selma defeated the Emperors 4-2 on Jan. 23 in the first meeting between the two teams this season.
“We've got to take it one game at a time,” Bears’ head coach Ruben Zamora said. “First place is still on the line…Dinuba is a really good team. We played them last Tuesday [Jan. 23] and that was a really hard match. At their home it is going to be exactly the same, and it’s going to be a really intense match.”
Zamora said that Exeter is also vying for a league title in third place with a 4-2 record. Selma lost to the Monarchs 4-3 at home on Jan. 19.
Currently, Exeter is 6-7-3 overall and 4-2 in the CSL. Zamora said Exeter is a team they will need watch out for during the final stretch of the season.
“Exeter beat us, so we've got to get our revenge,” he said. “We've got to wake up and get our revenge because if we don’t beat Exeter and lose to Dinuba then we lose league. Our goal is to win league and push that momentum in the playoffs.”
Next up for the Bears is a road game against Immanuel (0-9 overall, 0-5 in CSL) on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Selma defeated the Eagles 7-0 and Immanuel will go into the game on a 48-game losing streak that dates back to the 2014-15 season. After, the Bears will also go on the road to play Central Valley Christian High School (4-8-1 overall, 1-3 in CSL) on Friday, Feb. 2.