HANFORD — After losing twice to the Bullpups in the regular season, the Golden Bears finally got the best of their rivals in an 11-10 first-round upset playoff victory at Hanford West High School on Wednesday.
“It just took letting the boys know how good of a team that they are together,” Sierra Pacific coach Jared Oakley said. “It really came down to how bad they wanted it. I knew that everything that I taught them pretty much the entire year was going to come down to what they knew and how they played this game.”
The No. 11 seed Golden Bears (7-11, 5-3 ESL) trailed 9-7 entering the fourth quarter before Tanner Ozuna scored from the right wing on a counter to bring them within one. Hanford’s Gabe Magallan answered back with his game-high fifth goal of the night from about seven meters out.
But it wouldn’t be enough in the CIF Central Section Division III playoff match. The Golden Bears’ Anthony Mora converted a 5-meter followed by goals by Myles Kelly and Tyson Dodd to give them a one-goal lead.
“It was all about dedication,” Mora said. “Every time we went into a quarter we had our talks. Coach, he lit us up, he lit the fire. It was really just a team effort.”
Sierra Pacific goalkeeper Landon Soares blocked the No. 6 seed Bullpups’ final shot attempt with 11 seconds to go and the team erupted into cheers after running out the clock. The defense buckled down and kept the Bullpups scoreless over the final six minutes and five seconds of the game.
“Defense wins championships and I know from the start of the game, defense is the first thing we have to focus on,” Sierra Pacific coach Jared Oakley said. “If we know that we can shut down and hold their offense on defense, as long as we just ease our way in with our offense, it’ll slowly show on the score.”
Sierra Pacific’s Mora and Dodd scored four goals each and combined to score eight of the team’s 11 goals, including two of the four in the final quarter. Mora converted a 5-meter penalty in the third quarter which tied the match 7-7 and again in the fourth to bring them within a goal, 10-9.
“I saw it as we were down, my team needed me,” Mora said about the 5-meter. “I had to execute.”
Garret James, Ozuna and Kelly all finished with one goal.
You have free articles remaining.
Sierra Pacific led 3-2 after the first quarter behind Mora’s two goals from about seven meters out. James took advantage and scored on a 6-on-5 opportunity after excellent ball movement by the Golden Bears.
“Nobody wants to lose to their hometown rival three times in a row,” Mora said. “Even at our breaks today at school we all just sat around and talked about the game.”
For the Bullpups, it was a painful end to the season. They led 6-4 at halftime after Magallan’s spin to shed a defender and finish in front gave them a 5-4 lead — their first of the match. He followed up 21 seconds later with a 5-meter.
The Bullpups were also in control in the third quarter before unraveling in the fourth. A lot of turnovers and missed opportunities during the final quarter ended up costing the team.
“There’s a lot of emotion in playoffs, especially with a crosstown rival and mental mistakes is what cost us that,” Hanford coach Anthony Souza said. “Forcing passes that weren’t there, they weren’t developed yet, and hats off to Sierra Pacific. They got the job done.”
Magallan, a sophomore who was brought up to varsity earlier in the year, scored a career-high five goals on Wednesday. He was a big part of why Hanford led and stayed close in the game and was the only Bullpup to score in all four quarters.
“He’s got a hell of an arm, he’s a good player, he’s a young player, he’s got big, bright future in my eyes,” Souza said. “He did really well tonight on shooting the ball hard.”
Camden Hampshire, who led the team with 114 goals this season, was rolled in the first quarter and finished with one goal. Jon Avila scored two goals, while Landon Dodd and Logan Reeser each had one.
Hanford won the regular-season meetings 18-7 and 12-9.
The Bullpups end the season 11-13 overall and 2-8 in the West Yosemite League. Sierra Pacific continues in the playoffs and will face No. 3 seed Reedley (20-7, 8-2 NYL) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Reedley defeated No. 14 Bakersfield Christian 15-5 on Wednesday.