PATTERSON — There are no strangers on the Patterson High soccer team. Most of the kids have played together for years, including the Molinas.
Twins Cesar and Gustavo can't remember what it's like playing without one another.
"I think we were 4 years old the first time we played a game with each other," said right midfielder Cesar. "We have a great sense for where the other one is going to be."
That's fortunate for Patterson, which used a brother-to-brother goal in overtime for a 1-0 win over Riverbank in Thursday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 semifinal.
It's the third year in a row Patterson ended the Bruins' season in the playoffs and sends the Tigers (20-5-4) to a third straight section final.
Patterson faces Western Athletic Conference rival Hilmar (17-5-6) Saturday at noon at Lincoln High in Stockton. Hilmar beat Bret Harte 2-0.
Patterson was shut out in the last two finals, an obstacle coach Greg Hartsell says this year's team can conquer.
"We were young and I think the nerves got to us last year, but I brought back nine of 11 starters so we'll be ready for the pressure," Hartsell said.
The Molinas made sure the Tigers will get a third opportunity by teaming for a goal with just 5 minutes to play.
Riverbank tried to convert on a free kick from the right side, but goalie Luis Torres grabbed the ball and quickly threw it to Cesar on his left.
Cesar raced up the side, getting to the top of the penalty box before firing a pass to the center.
Gustavo trapped it 15 yards in front of the goal, luring out goalie Hugo Calderon, then used his right foot to blast it into the left corner.
"Our coaches do a good job of letting us know where the holes will be in the defense," said Gustavo, who had a one-on-one duel with Calderon.
Many of the Tigers play for the Turlock Tornadoes club team, and have since they were 13.
"We spend so much time together, in school, on the team and in club soccer, that we're all great friends," Cesar said. "Me and Gustav are brothers, but it feels like the rest of the guys are my brothers, also."
If not for the aggressive defense of center fullback Javier Gonzalez, Gustavo would not have had his opportunity.
The husky Gonzalez repeatedly challenged Riverbank's agile forwards, using his size to block their path and then blasting the ball downfield.
"Javier started last season, but this year was a backup," Cesar noted. "He kept working hard, and when we lost a defender, he was ready to go.
"He saved us so many times today. If you pick an MVP for this game, Javier's the guy."