The best news for the Modesto High soccer team probably isn't that it's going to the playoffs, but that the Panthers will not have to face Davis once the postseason begins.
The Spartans, who are headed for a fourth-place finish in the Modesto Metro Conference, are not going to the playoffs, but you'd never know it the way they played against Modesto this season.
Including Tuesday's scoreless draw at Downey High, Modesto went 1-1-1 in MMC play against Davis, 9-0-2 against the rest of the league.
The Panthers officially clinched a playoff spot with the draw, then were able to celebrate an outright MMC title when Downey beat Johansen 2-1 in the third game of the MMC showcase triple-header.
The evening began when Enochs, which had scored three goals all season, erupted offensively in a 4-0 victory over Beyer — giving the Eagles their first victory.
Enochs' victory showed both Modesto and Davis what they were up against as far as the playing conditions were concerned. Not only were the games played on Downey's swift FieldTurf surface, but the howling north wind impacted every pass.
After a 0-0 first half, Enochs scored four goals in the second half, striking downwind.
"It has advantages and disadvantages for both sides, but the bottom line is that the wind is a factor you just can't control," said Modesto goalkeeper Rene Mejia.
"We knew we couldn't do anything about the wind, but we could keep the ball on the ground and keep the ball moving around, even though it is a fast field. Everything was in our hands."
The Panthers (17-1-6 overall) had the best of play in both halves. They spent the opening 40 minutes fighting upwind and controlling the play through strong midfield play and a precise, short passing game in the attacking zone.
Neither team had good scoring chances in the first half, but that changed in the second half when Modesto began a barrage of shots on the Davis goal. Very few of them were on net, but the constant attack made it clear which team was in control.
"Davis is a very well-organized team than never gives us much," said Modesto coach Matt Mendes. "You can control possession, but they fill the gaps and they're marking very well. They just play a strong game."
Thursday will be the final day of action for either Johansen or Downey. If the Knights defeat Beyer, they will earn the MMC's No. 2 seed and meet the Central California Conference champion in the first round of the playoffs.
But if Beyer manages to pull off the upset on Thursday, Johansen would earn the No. 2 seed with a victory over Modesto.
With that scenario still in play, Mendes says he's going to send his first team onto the pitch to battle the Vikings.
"We still aren't able to rest guys on Thursday," Mendes said. "That would not be sportsmanlike because Downey still has a stake in things."
NOTES — First-round games in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs have to be completed by Saturday, Nov. 7. Mendes said that he's looking into reserving Downey Stadium for a first-round game on that Saturday in anticipation of the Panthers hosting a first-round game.
The other school (either Franklin or Tracy out of the San Joaquin Athletic Association) would have to agree on the time change and also the moving of the game off the Modesto High campus.
One look at the Modesto pitch, which has a dirt softball infield at either end, should be enough to convince the visiting team of the need for the move.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.