CERES — There were several motivating factors for Central Valley High's soccer team as it opened the Division 4 playoffs Tuesday.
There was the win-or-go-home truth that is a part of all postseason play as well as a chance to eliminate the River City team that bounced the Hawks in last year's postseason.
But senior Tony Cabrera was gunning for the perfect scenario — the one that puts his Central Valley team in the Sac-Joaquin Section finals against arch-rival Ceres.
"We're looking for Ceres in the final, but our objective is for us to get there, and once we're in it, we'll be there to win," Cabrera said.
The speedy forward did his part against River City, scoring twice in the opening three minutes of the second overtime to push the Hawks over the defending section champs 4-2.
Central Valley, the champion of the Valley Oak League, improved to 16-3-5 and awaits the winner of Tuesday's late El Dorado-Foothill game. Thursday's second round game will be played at Central Valley if Foothill wins, and in Placerville if El Dorado advances.
The Hawks dominated throughout the match, outshooting the Raiders 28-7 and forcing River City goalkeeper Juan Muniz to make 13 saves. Still, had Cabrera not broken through with his overtime goals, the game would have gone into a shootout, which would have been contested in near-darkness on the unlit CVHS pitch.
It took two brief Hawks' mistakes on defense to send the game into OT. With CV leading 1-0 on Daniel Ochoa's goal in the 30th minute, River City tied the game 30 seconds before halftime when it allowed Raiders' striker Miguel Angel Napoles to dribble unmarked into the top of the box. He found teammate Ivan Hernandez with an easy drop pass for a goal into the open left side of the net.
Larry Hernandez scored 13 minutes into the second half when his corner kick took a spinning bounce into the side of the net, but Central Valley again lost the lead in the final minute of the half when Richie Ramirez curled in a free kick from 20 yards.
"We have games like this where we start out strong and then make mistakes to almost give it away," said Hawks' coach Omar Leon. "We can't make mistakes, but we seemed to be careless in the last minute of each half. We lost concentration. I guess that's part of being a teenager, but they can do better than that."
NOTES: River City defeated Central Valley in last year's semifinals before downing Ceres in the championship match. ... Central Valley has never lost a match to Ceres, going 6-0-2 against the Bulldogs in the four-year history of the series.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.