STOCKTON -- More than 130 years ago, Jules Verne showed it was possible to go around the world in 80 days -- exactly the length of time it took Linden High School to write its own memorable story.
The Lions, blanked 8-0 by Patterson in a season-opener Aug. 28, penned the final chapter Monday night when they defeated the Tigers 2-0 at Lincoln High to claim the school's first Sac-Joaquin Section Division V soccer title.
"We were talking about this being like a movie," said senior forward Manny Perez, who scored both of Linden's goals in the first half. "Our perfect season was taken away in that first game and we were writing a Cinderella story through the playoffs, so why not finish the story with a win?"
The Lions, playing a rare game on an artificial surface against a team at home on the fake grass, were consistently quicker to the ball throughout the 80 minutes, which had the Patterson side in disbelief after the game.
"It is real shocking, but Linden is twice the team they were at the start of the season," said Tigers coach Greg Hartsell. "I know we didn't take this team lightly. We focused all week on wiping away what we remembered from the beginning of the year.
"Linden came out and impressed us. We didn't anticipate their speed, and they were beating us to the ball. They just beat us."
Linden, the Mother Lode League champs, finished with a 22-4-1 record. Patterson, which allowed more than one goal only three times this season while claiming the Western Athletic Conference crown, also finished 22-4-1.
"I can't explain it other than to say the boys came together tonight," said Linden coach Tino Luevano. "We had some luck and sometimes that's what you need."
Neither goal, however, fell into the category of "luck."
In the 28th minute, after a foul just outside the right edge of the box, Luis Duran's low free kick found the head of Perez near the left side of the goal, and Perez crossed goalkeeper Luis Torres into the right side of the net.
The lead grew to 2-0 in the 39th minute, when a throw-in from the left side by Chris Whitesides went directly to Perez, who headed it past a lunging Torres.
The Lions came out in the second half content to hold the lead, packing the defensive end to keep Patterson from mounting a comeback.
Still, the thought of going from an 8-0 Patterson to a 2-0 Linden victory in a span of 80 days had both sides searching for answers.
"I didn't pay too much attention to them at the beginning of the year," Hartsell said. "I do not remember that speed, and that's what beat us tonight."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.