If everything goes according to plan and with a little help from the soccer-Gods, both the Yosemite High boys team (10-5, 4-2 North Sequoia League), and the girls team (11-4-1, 4-1-1 NSL) could be heading to the CIF Central Section D-IV playoffs.
Last year the girls team had a first round bye in the playoffs then played Golden West of Visalia at home and lost 1-0 - but for the boys, getting to the playoffs would be something that has not happened in the past 8 seasons.
The boys team, lead by first year Head Coach David Cicoletti and his assistant Marcus Levya, made up of 9 seniors, 5 juniors and 5 sophomores, are playing together well and improving each week.
Case in point - In round one of NSL play, the Kerman Lions beat Yosemite 3-0 on Jan. 10, but the tables were turned last Friday as the home team Badgers stunned the Lions 2-0.
The win, along with another convincing shut-out win over Chowchilla on Jan. 12, thanks to two goals from junior Chris Ward and an assist from Matt Williams, gives the team momentum with the play-offs on the horizon.
Most notable win of the season
The second win was perhaps the team’s most notable of the season - a 2-0 shutout of Kerman on Jan. 26. The win came after the Badgers lost to the Lions 3-0 on Jan. 10 in Kerman.
A goal in the first 10 minutes by defensive back Ethan Conti gave the team an early lead, while the defense played tough the rest of the half to keep Kerman scoreless.
Shortly after the start of the second half co-captain and defensive midfielder Henry Curley found the back of the net on an assist by attacking midfielder Orion Cicoletti.
Sophomore goalie Jensen Pincus had another string of great saves and the Badgers defensive unit stayed organized and aggressive to pull off the shutout win against Kerman’s usually prolific offensive.
The win has the Badgers sitting at second place in the league behind Washington Union.
“That was a solid win and it really displayed the heart that this team has been consistently bringing to every game this season,” said Head Coach David Cicoletti after the game. “The team just works well together and has lots of heart. This is what makes us tough to play against and I believe it’s the reason we are now sitting in second place with 10 wins on the season.”
Ward is the team’s leading scorer with 13 on the season, 3 in league play.
Ward, who played on the varsity team as a sophomore, said this year’s team is much different from last year.
“Our younger players have stepped-up this year and the team as a whole, has a much better attitude,” Ward said. “Everything just really seem to be clicking this year.”
Ward said the coaching staff of Cicoletti and Levya has played a big role in getting the team to come together.
“Coach Levya has been my coach since I was in the fifth grade,” Ward said. “The older players on this team have been on the same travel team and now high school teams for the past six years. Knowing each other well and how we play together has made a big difference.”
The first round of the Central Section play-offs start on Feb. 12, and if the team continues to win, the Badgers are expected to be a 5 or 6 seed.
“We have gotten stronger as the year goes on - we just have to keep working hard and we hope to do really well in the play-offs,” Ward said.
Senior Night Friday
The team plays at Sierra Wednesday and hosts Liberty Friday in Badger Stadium on Senior Night. In the first round of league play, Yosemite beat Sierra at home 3-0, and beat Liberty on the road 3-1.
“We’ve really been enjoying the support from community this year,” Cicoletti said. “When the boys look up and see supporters in the stands before home games, I think it gives the team that extra boost of motivation and it has been a factor in our success. We encourage more people to come out for senior night this Friday against Liberty.”
The team played at Sierra Wednesday, and NSL leader Washington Union (21-1, 6-0 NSL) comes to Oakhurst on Feb. 5. Union is ranked ranked No. 49 in the state and No. 4 in the Central Section. The Badgers end NSL play at Chowchilla on Feb. 7. JV games start at 5 p.m. with varsity at 6.
Garner now No. 1 scorer in the state
Lead my senior Peyton Garner, who leads not only the NSL and the Central Section, but the state with 44 goals, the Yosemite girls team scored a total of 14 points while shutting-out two opponents last week - 5-0 at Chowchilla on Jan. 24 and 9-0 at at home over Kerman on Jan. 26.
Garner scored 4 times against Chowchilla with Savannah Bohna adding the fifth point.
Garner scored 3 more goals against Kerman, with Kara Eckstein, Addison McCully and Bohna getting two each.
Garner now has the single season and career scoring records for both boys and girls players in the history of Yosemite High.
“The girls looked really good, comfortable and relaxed this week,” said Coach Venessa Jasper. “Unfortunately our starting goalie, senior Charlotte Borough, who has been doing an outstanding job for us this season, injured her knee last knee and we are still waiting to hear what the diagnosis is from her doctor.”
The team is in second place, behind Washington Union, in the NSL and currently ranked No. 7 in the CIF Central Section D-III.
Like the boys team, the Lady Badgers have high hopes of entering the Central Section play-offs.
The Lady Badgers play at Sierra Tuesday and are at Liberty Friday.
The Liberty Hawks (16-5, 7-0 NSL) are currently in first place in the NSL with hopes of winning it’s 10th league title since the 2003 season.