Modesto opens soccer playoffs at home

Pitman No. 2 in D1 as 21 district teams go on

bvanderbeek@modbee.comNovember 8, 2013 

Since the Modesto Metro Conference didn't wrap up league play until Thursday, the three teams that qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berths didn't have to wait long to discover their fates.

For MMC champion Modesto High, there were no surprises.

As a league champ, the Panthers were granted a No. 8 seed and home game in Division 1 and will host No. 9 Woodcreek of Roseville on Tuesday at 3 p.m. on the Modesto High football field.

Modesto will be joined in Division 1 by Central California Conference champ Pitman (No. 2) and runner-up Merced (No. 5.)

Gregori and Davis, which finished second and third in the MMC, earned spots in the Division 2 field. The Jaguars will host Grant while the Spartans — who rose from a last-place finish last season — will visit No. 3 Buhach Colony.

"I thought we'd be six, seven or eighth and anywhere in there we'd be happy," said Modesto High coach Matt Mendes. "I wasn't assuming a home game because of the past success of our conference. Except for Downey, we haven't sent anyone deep in the playoffs in awhile."

In all, 21 teams from the Stanislaus District have been seeded into the seven playoff divisions. The upper four divisions begin play Tuesday, while Divisions 5, 6 and 7 open play Thursday. The entire tournament is played on home sites until the finals, which will be at neutral sites to be determined on Nov. 16.

Central Valley grabbed the top seed in Division 3 and will have a first-round bye, as will Oakdale, that division's No. 2 seed.

Hawks coach Omar Leon knows this is Central Valley's best chance for awhile to grab the school's first blue banner in boys' soccer. They reached the final last season before dropping a 2-0 decision to River Valley.

They also reached the Division 4 final in 2010, losing to Vista Del Lago, and in 2009 dropped a title game to Ceres in a match where both teams were without key players who chose to play that day with their club teams.

Leon said this year's team should not be suffering from such split loyalty.

"We talked about that yesterday, and as far as I know, everybody is committed," Leon said. "I think it's because the players know that this is the first time we've had so many senior starters — high-scoring players who won't be back.

"I know high schools don't offer the highest level of soccer they play. But this is their last chance to play for and in front of their teammates, friends, teachers and girlfriends."

Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek.

Sac-Joaquin Section Soccer Playoffs

(All games 3 p.m. unless schools agree to change)

• Division 1 (16 teams)

Top seed: Jesuit

Stanislaus District teams: No. 2 Pitman, No. 5 Merced, No. 8 Modesto

Tuesday's first-round games: Franklin-Elk Grove at Pitman, Lodi at Merced, Woodcreek at Modesto

• Division 2 (16 teams)

Top seed: Vintage

Stanislaus District teams: No. 3 Buhach Colony, No. 5 Gregori, No. 14 Davis

Tuesday's first-round games: Davis at Buhach Colony, Grant at Gregori

• Division 3 (12 teams)

Top seed: Central Valley

Stanislaus District teams: No. 1 Central Valley, No. 2 Oakdale, No. 5 Manteca, No. 7 Ceres, No. 11 Patterson.

Tuesday's first-round games: Lincoln-Lincoln at Manteca, American Canyon at Ceres, Patterson at Florin. Central Valley and Oakdale, bye.

• Division 4 (8 teams)

Top seed: Weston Ranch

Stanislaus District teams: No. 1 Weston Ranch

Tuesday's first-round game: Natomas at Weston Ranch

• Division 5 (8 teams)

Top seed: Linden

Stanislaus District teams: No. 1 Linden, No. 3 Ripon, No. 5 Riverbank, No. 6 Bret Harte, No. 8 Delhi

Thursday's first-round games: Delhi at Linden, Bret Harte at Ripon, Riverbank at Venture Academy

• Division 6 (8 teams)

Top seed: Capital Christian

Stanislaus District teams: No. 3 Le Grand, No. 5 Summerville, No. 6 Hilmar

Thursday's first-round games: Hilmar at Le Grand, Summerville at Millennium

• Division 7 (8 teams)

Top seed: Forest Lake Christian

Stanislaus District team: No. 3 Ripon Christian

Thursday's first-round game: Cristo Rey at Ripon Christian

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