HANFORD – It’s safe to say the Reedley High boys soccer team has found the perfect formula for success.
The Pirates (14-4-1, 4-0 Tri-County Conference Kings Canyon Division) remained perfect in 2024 on Tuesday night, controlling the action throughout and riding the strength of three first half goals to cruise past Sierra Pacific High, 3-1. Reedley has won seven straight since the start of the new year, outscoring its opposition 22-6 including 14-4 in the division.
Coach Eric Velarde said the process has been simple.
“We found a rotation right now that’s been working for us,” he said. “It’s allowing us to keep fresh legs on the field, and to get as many guys as many minutes on the field as possible.”
After a scoreless 14 minutes, the Pirates finally broke through when senior forward-striker Jose Magallon slammed home a shot from the right side. Five minutes later, senior Eduardo Vasquez converted on a feed to the middle to make it 2-0.
Reedley continued to dominate the action deep in the Sierra Pacific end, as the Golden Bears (3-11-2, 0-4) struggled to mark up defensively and get any offense established. The Pirates continued to pepper goalkeeper Adam Sumaya with shots on goal, and found the net for the third time when Esteban Baca sent a pinpoint header past Sumaya in the 38th minute.
“We know we have the qualities to do that against any team, really,” Velarde said “We have those players in our attack now that allow us to go at teams, and sustain pressure by winning the ball back as fast as we can. We’re looking to keep possession, be patient and find openings.”
Reedley exhibited the ball control attack in a big way, keeping the ball in the hosts’ end of the field for nearly the entire final 65 minutes of the match. The Golden Bears’ lone score came from Xavier Zarate off a rare counter attack less than five minutes into the second half.
It pretty much was all Pirates the rest of the night, with the team continually working for scoring opportunities but unable to add to the lead. That included a missed penalty shot after a foul in the box, but the team still managed to control the play while giving reserves playing time.
Velarde praised Vasquez, one of three captains for Reedley, after the senior’s goal and assist gave him nine of each for the season.
“He’s had a very good year. He’s really stepped up to make sure that he’s not allowing himself to settle,” the coach said of Vasquez. “He’s done a fantastic job of keeping his energy levels up and his work rate up.”
Magallon leads the team with 18 goals (along with six assists) while Baca has eight goals and six assists.
Reedley comes home for matches against Selma (7-5-2, 1-1-2) on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. and second place Kerman (9-6-5, 2-1-1) on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. Two wins would basically wrap up the division for the Pirates.
“It will allow us to see where we’re at as a team, and to see (if) we can continue to dominate and sustain pressure against teams.” Velarde said. “They’re coming to Reedley and they’re ready to give us their best game. So that’s what we expect.”