It was “Championship Thursday” on October 13th at Creekside Junior High, which is located in western Los Banos.
The school, which opened in 2016, ended its 2022-23 fall athletic season by hosting two championships, soccer and volleyball. The Wildcats came away victorious in both to claim dual Westside League titles.
On the soccer pitch, Creekside faced off against Firebaugh and came away with a hard-fought, 2-0 victory.
“It was a very exciting game,” said Creekside head coach Marc Heguy. “We had lost our first-round playoff game last year to Firebaugh, 1-0 in overtime, so it was bittersweet to be able to face them again in the championship.”
Firebaugh came into this game scoring a total of 44 goals for the season, but Creekside had the best defense in the league and the athletes turned in another stellar performance.
The entire game was a scoreless stalemate until the last five minutes of the second half when Gonzalo Fernandez scored the first goal of the game.
With time running out Firebaugh had to press offensively, leaving their defense vulnerable, and by doing so Creekside was able to slip by the defense to score another goal with two minutes left in regulation. That was enough to seal the victory.
Heguy’s squad finished the season undefeated with one tie and the defense led the way. The Wildcats allowed only five goals the entire season.
“Our midfield was strong and we did not have a true attacking offensive player,” Heguy explained. “We really didn’t need it. With such a strong defense, we only needed one or two goals to win our matches.”
One of the top players on the squad was Milton Lazo, a sweeper who was the leader of the defense.
“Milton’s biggest play of the season was scoring a free kick from midfield against Coalinga to secure a victory in overtime,” said Heguy.
Captain Gerardo Valdavinos was the team’s center midfielder.
“The whole team revolved around his skill set,” said Heguy. “He ran the team like a maestro of a finely tuned orchestra, and Gonzalo Fernandez was the heart of the team. He worked his butt off in every game and he became our biggest scoring threat by the season’s end.”
Max Solano, who started the season on the bench, was the team’s most improved player.
“By the second game, he became one of the most formidable defenders we had,” said the coach. “I can’t recall any opposing player that could get around him one-on-one. He was relentless and a complete pleasure to coach.”