The Wolf Pack beat Franklin High of Stockton 2-0 on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at West High.
It moves West (10-2-3 overall, 5-2-3 Tri-City Athletic League) to the second round of the SJS Division I bracket. West will play at Granite Bay on Thursday, Nov. 1.
West coach Nate Perry said it was a relief to see his team match Franklin’s aggressive play after finishing the TCAL season with two losses and a tie.
“We’ve been lackadaisical on offense,” Perry said, adding that on Tuesday his team met the goals it set during the last week of practice before the postseason.
“We’re starting to take some chances attacking space, whereas before all we were doing was possess (the ball), and we weren’t going forward.”
The Franklin Yellow Jackets (15-5-4, 6-2-2 San Joaquin Athletic Association) put on offensive pressure in the first half. With some of West’s key players out because of injuries, including senior sweeper Waseem Latifi, Perry relied on senior Manuel Lopez and junior Javier Rios to stand up to Franklin’s attacks.
“We just had to defend to the last minute,” Rios said.
Freshman midfielder Ahmad Samady added that Franklin showed West how tough the Wolf Pack will have to be, both mentally and physically, to move forward in the playoffs.
“They’re a really good counterattacking team, but we stayed in our positions and we moved the ball left to right and played our game,” Samady said.
Wolf Pack senior goalkeeper Dan Baratta blocked six shots in the first half, including two in a row at the end of the half. Lopez also blocked a shot on goal after the Yellow Jackets drew Baratta out of position on a corner kick.
West scored in the 26th minute when sophomore midfielder Josh Avelar, just up from the junior varsity team, launched a throw-in to the front of the goal, where senior midfielder Alex Valencia was in position to score on a header.
West started the second half with intense pressure on Franklin’s goal.
Daniel Munoz passed from the left to Valencia in the middle, and a foul called on a Franklin defender gave West a penalty kick. Senior Shawn Frisbie fired the ball into the left side to make it a 2-0 game in the 44th minute.
Franklin kept up its attacks, forcing Baratta to make five more saves, including a deflected penalty kick as the Yellow Jackets’ Noe Abundis took a shot at the right side of the goal.
Now West, which started as the No. 7 seed in Division I, will go on the road to face Granite Bay, the No. 2 seed. Granite Bay moved on after the Grizzlies beat Monterey Trail 3-0 on Tuesday.
Senior midfielder Alex Valencia expects his team to step up to the challenge.
“We’re playing a tough team and we have to travel far, but if we keep up the intensity, we should do good,” Valencia said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done so far.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.