Golden Valley's Lee Shaw and Atwater's Steve Menezes believe their high schools girls soccer teams are playoff ready.
A very competitive Central California Conference season had the league title and its three playoff berths decided in the final week of the regular season. It forced both teams to play high-intensity, playoff-caliber contests for the last two weeks.
Both coaches hope it serves as a calming influence as their playoff-inexperienced teams hit the road today for the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
No. 10 Golden Valley (13-7-3) will travel to No. 7 McClatchy (13-2-1) in Division 1 action.
Shaw said it's a team he's familiar with, having played McClatchy a handful of times the last few years.
"We know their style and we know their field," Shaw said. "They really like to battle it out to produce their attack.
"We just need to continue doing the things we've done well and we should have a good shot."
GV stumbled down the stretch and was in danger of falling out of the playoffs. Shaw's squad rallied in the final week of the regular season, however, and managed to grab the school's first ever share of a CCC title.
Now they set their sights on the team's first ever girls soccer playoff win.
"I think we felt the season slipping away from us and we really refocused that last week," sweeper Danielle Vigil said. "This team just has this energy that wasn't going to be denied.
"We're excited for the chance to build upon the legacy we've already made. No Golden Valley team has ever won a playoff game before, so we can't really fail. "We only have an opportunity to succeed."
No. 13 Atwater (13-6-7) will travel to defending Division 1 champion No. 4 St. Mary's (18-4-3) in Division 2 action.
With 123 goals scored in 25 regular-season games, the Rams appear to be the exact opposite of the defensive-minded Falcons.
"Part of it is that their league is a little different," Menezes said. "When you look at the good teams they've played, the games have been close.
"We just need to rely on our strengths, which is our defense and our goaltending. If we stay disciplined and keep things close, we could frustrate them."
The two CCC squads are among five local girls soccer teams that made the playoffs.
No. 6 Livingston will head to No. 3 Vista del Lago in Division 4. No. 4 Hilmar has the only home game against No. 5 Calaveras in Division 5. No. 5 Gustine will face No. 4 Golden Sierra in Division 6.
All the small-school teams will open the playoffs on Thursday. Those games are also set for 3:30 p.m. starts.