Woodlake’s first playoff win in five years is followed by a defeat at the hands of Orosi
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
WOODLAKE – The No. 4 Tigers’ Division IV playoff run came to an abrupt halt last Saturday by losing to the No. 5 Orosi Cardinals 2-1, but not before winning their first playoff game in five seasons with a 3-0 shutout over the McFarland Cougars.
“I’m excited for the boys,” Woodlake head coach Jose Palomo said. “We played a strong McFarland team which has a record not indicative of their level of play.”
The pressure of the game’s magnitude made the Tigers (18-6-3, 9-3) more than just a bit nervous. On the opening kickoff Carlos Torres kicked the ball directly to McFarland (8-14-3, 4-7-1) instead of back to his teammates. Embarrassed, Torres quickly recovered from that mistake and scored the games first goal in the 14th minute.
As the game continued on scattered showers made the conditions on the field untenable and limited each team’s scoring opportunities.
It wasn’t until the second half that Palomo began to get his offense organized. Palomo noticed that McFarland’s back line was playing flat, so he instructed his players to begin sending long passes up and over the top. Those long passes helped get McFarland’s sweeping defender out of position.
In the ninth minute, Torres was on the receiving end of one of those passes after he got behind the McFarland defense. In an attempt to shove him down a defender tried to hook his arm, but Torres broke away, scoring his second goal of the game to make it 2-0.
“Carlos has been working throughout the season,” Palomo said. “He’s been producing opportunities for us in the past five games.”
Dael Vega nine minutes later scored to make it 3-0 after showing some fancy footwork along the baseline.
“Those two goals we were fortunate to get him out of position,” Palomo said.
When Woodlake went up 3-0, McFarland sent every player up into the offensive zone, and the physicality of the game was increased. Tempers and frustration finally reached a boiling point in the 38th minute. McFarland took the ball in Woodlake’s zone up the far sideline. When a Woodlake defender came over to take the ball away a fight broke out.
McFarland’s bench cleared as Woodlake’s coaching staff rushed over to break up the fight before something serious happened. After the two teams were separated there were two red cards handed out. Woodlake’s Adrian Menera and McFarland’s Jose Espinoza were the recipients.
“It is unfortunate that it would result to something like that, but I also have to look at the control and the role the referees play in that,” Palomo said.
Palomo realizes that the duty of keeping the players in check is not the sole responsibility of the officials, but he also believes that if a couple fouls are called early a game’s tempo can be changed.