State

Vikings playoff bound

One team advanced to the playoffs. The other will have to wait until Thursday.

The Johansen High boys soccer team clinched a playoff berth, thanks to its 2-2 tie against Downey on Tuesday night at Chuck Hughes Stadium.

Downey, which advanced to the section championship game last year, must defeat Beyer on Thursday to join the Vikings.

Tuesday night's game had the intensity of a playoff match, and in many ways it was. The teams are atop the Modesto Metro Conference standings, only a point separating them.

And after it was over, they remained atop the MMC standings. Johansen is now 10-1-3 with 33 points. Downey is 10-2-2, a point behind the Vikings. Third-place Modesto (9-3-2, 29 points) still has playoff hopes. It needs a win over Johansen on Thursday and needs Beyer to defeat the Knights.

"For us, the playoffs begin now," Downey coach Adrian Romero said. "We have to win that game on Thursday."

The Knights took an early lead against Johansen on Tuesday when Eric Vera got open and fired a shot from about 20 yards out into the right side of the net eight minutes into the game.

But the Vikings came right back, tying it six minutes later. Alexis Mendoza sent a high cross from the right side toward the Downey net, and Jose Luis Rodriguez caught up to the ball, sending it into the net with a flick of his head.

Rodriguez made it 2-1 with six minutes left in the half when he got free down the right side, sending a low shot into the left side of the net.

But the Knights weren't finished. After several good scoring chances in the second half, Chad Cooper made it 2-2 on a free kick from about 20 yards out for the final score.

"Downey really fought back in the second half," Rodriguez said. "We really want first place. We want the league title, and we want the home playoff game that comes with it. We have to finish strong on Thursday."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at wdeboard@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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