After losing 5-4 in their Sept. 18 matchup to the Sacramento Waldorf Waves, the Cavs were looking to get revenge. The only way they would ever face the Waves again would be in the playoffs. As the two teams are in opposite sides of the bracket, the only time they could meet would be in the Sac-Joaquin Section Championship.
But the stars aligned, and on Nov. 14 at Cosumnes Oaks High School, the teams met in the championship game. And this time the story was different. The Cavs put together a second half scoring streak to dominate the Waves, 3-0, winning the section title.
For the first 10 minutes of the first half, the Waves kept possession of the ball on the Cavs’ side of the field. But great defense and clears from freshman Nate Jakobs and juniors Adam Dean and Aidan Cunningham prevented the Waves from getting into scoring position.
At 23 minutes in, the ball found its way to sophomore Theo Kaufman at the top of the box. After it was cleared, Kaufman fired but the ball hit the top post, denying the Cavs what seemed to be the early goal they needed to gain momentum.
Coach Matt Vargo also made multiple subs in the first half, trying to keep the players fresh.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, the Waves got a throw-in from the right sideline. Waves’ junior Dylan Reisig launched the ball in front of the goal, but a good clear by Cunningham stopped any chance the Waves had.
As the ball got cleared, sophomore B.J. Askew was tripped, and a foul was called on the Cavs while he was on the ground. The Waves, with a close free kick, looked to capitalize but were stopped in their tracks by a great save by goalie Brad Petchauer.
With five minutes left in the half, the Waves got another throw-in. This time they threw it right to Petchauer, who cleared the ball downfield to Askew.
Askew created space at the top of the box with a stutter step and delivered a quick pass to senior Diego Perochena, who was cutting across from the right side of the field. Perochena fired, but his shot was blocked by Waldorf’s junior goalie, Mason Conley.
With two minutes left in the first half, Jakobs took a throw-in from around midfield and gave the ball to Askew, who worked the ball to the box where he juked three Waves’ defenders.
Askew dished the ball to a cutting Kaufman, a play almost identical to the one with Perochena. Kaufman’s shot was deflected by Conley, but this time Askew was there to follow. WIth Conley recovering and defenders closing in, Askew’s shot went just left of the goal.
Then with seconds left in the first half, Askew streaked down the field one last time in an attempt to score, but he hit the post once again. The first half ended scoreless.
In the start of the second half, the Waves once again kept the ball on the Cavs’ side of the field. After a nice clear by Dean, the ball was kicked out of bounds by the Waves.
Jakobs threw the ball into McCain, who was around the mid-right side of the box. McCain passed the ball to an open Kaufman at the top of the box. Kaufman launched the ball towards the left side of the goal as it sailed seamlessly into the back of the net, putting the Cavs up, 1-0.
Kaufman was ecstatic about scoring the first goal of the championship game.
“It was really exciting and felt amazing!” Kaufman said. “Once we scored our first one, I could tell we were just getting started.”
After the Waves kicked off, the Cavs fouled a Waves’ attacker resulting in a free kick. After the free kick was blocked by the wall, McCain and Quinton Kuhlman, a Waves’ forward, ran after the ball.
While fighting for the ball, Kuhlman punched McCain, resulting in a red card for Kuhlman. The Waves had to play the rest of the game 10 vs 11.
Ten minutes into the second half, Waldorf’s Hunter Lowery fouled Kaufman, resulting in a free kick. Junior Jesus Galindo-Sanchez took the kick and launched it in front of the goal to McCain and Askew. But the boys couldn’t capitalize, thanks to a great clear from the Waves’ defense.
Five minutes later, the Waves tried to fire back with a shot from the top of the box from senior Harry Wang, but it was denied by Petchauer, leaping to save the ball.
Soon after, McCain received a cross from Askew. McCain, in a 2-on-1 situation, sped past the first defender and juked the second in the box. Now in a 1-on-1 situation with Conley, McCain shot and scored with a beautifully placed shot into the left corner, giving the Cavs room to breathe with a 2-0 lead.
“It was probably one of the best feelings in my life,” McCain said. “I knew it would be hard for them to come back from that lead, and we were one step closer to claiming our big rings.”
With 13 minutes left in the game, the Cavs had a comfortable lead but were looking to put a stop to the Waves’ hopes of coming back.
Jakobs took a throw-in from the left side of the field and threw it directly to Askew, who worked the ball all the way from the left side to the top right of the box, where he saw an opportunity to seal the game.
Askew launched the ball into the right corner of the goal, destroying any hope of the Waves’ comeback and guaranteeing his team’s section title.
“I was just very pumped up,” Askew said. “I knew they weren’t coming back after that.”
The boys were awarded championship patches immediately following the game, and Vargo received the section title banner.
Petchauer said coming into this season, he thought it would be a rebuilding year and did not expect to make it to the section championship after losing so many senior players last year.
“Over half our starters are underclassmen, and to come out here and win 3-0 is amazing,” Petchauer said. “After losing to them last time, just coming out here and beating them outright is amazing.”
—By Jake Longoria