Buhach Colony High's boys soccer team had to have a feeling of "Here we go again" on Monday.
Gus Oliveros' squad has made major strides in the final round of the Central California Conference's triple-round-robin season, but that has not been reflected in its record.
Despite playing its best soccer of the season, the Thunder entered Monday afternoon's contest with Golden Valley having gone 0-3-1 in its last four games. All three losses were by single goals.
It looked like it would be more of the same against the Cougars at Veterans Stadium.
The Thunder gave the first-place Cougars all they could handle, but were kept off the scoreboard by goalkeeper Toby Osborne and the GV woodwork in a scoreless game.
Brandon Valenti was then called for obstruction of Esten Schroeder inside the penalty area in the 89th minute.
BC goalkeeper Ricardo Manzo came to the rescue, swatting away Eric Vazquez's penalty kick attempt to preserve the 0-0 draw.
"We just fell short," said Oliveros, whose team picked up its fifth tie of the season. "We created good chances, we just couldn't score. It was good to get at least the tie, though. Manzo made the play of the game."
Golden Valley (6-4-4 CCC) had an opportunity to clinch a spot in the playoffs, but head coach Lee Shaw was happy to salvage at least a point.
The draw moves the Cougars to 22 points and keeps them tied for first with Turlock (6-4-4).
Atwater (5-4-5) remains at 20 points after a loss to Pitman, while the Pride (4-4-6) are back in the playoff hunt with 18 points. Merced's draw with Turlock moves it to 20 points and leaves everything wide open heading into the final day of the regular season.
The top three teams make the playoffs.
"I told the guys after the game at least we got a point," Shaw said. "Depending on the other results, it still keeps us in first at least for now.
"We always knew it would come down to the last day of the season, so we need to go out and get a result."
BC always appeared to be the more dangerous team, particularly on corner kicks -- of which it forced eight.
The first half's best chance came off of one of them, when Juan Lopez flicked a ball with his head. Samir Rodriguez was the first to react, but headed his shot off the crossbar.
Osborne kept Golden Valley in it early, making four big saves in the first 40 minutes.
Lopez made the crossbar ring with another headed corner kick early in the second half and then BC (1-7-5 CCC) fired the rebound off the right post.
After that it was all Cougars.
GV's best opportunity came in the 53rd minute when David Mejia threaded a needle on a through pass to Jose Hernandez.
With only Manzo to beat, the senior pulled his shot just wide of the far post.
GV kept coming, but Manzo made 10 saves -- six in the second half -- to keep the Cougars scoreless.
"Both teams had chances, but a goal just wasn't meant to be," Shaw said.