Driving rain gets best of soccer showdown

Sanger-Bullard girls clash on Senior Night to determine CMAC crown is delayed a day by departing storm system

Sanger High senior defender Sofia Valdez and her family walk onto the field during a steady rainshower prior to the Apaches’ postponed match against Bullard High on Feb. 7. Also honored with Valdez were fellow SHS seniors Andrea Alvarenga, Haylee Marquez, Jaylyn Ramirez, Hayley Lopez, Nicole Gonzalez and Vale Herrera. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published February 8, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – The weather delayed the battle for the County Metro Athletic Conference girls soccer championship between Sanger High and visiting Bullard High by nearly 24 hours.

The final portion of a three-day storm system swept through the Central Valley on Wednesday afternoon and turned the grass playing surface at Tom Flores Hall of Fame stadium into a shallow puddled swamp by the 5:30 p.m. match time. Hearty players’ parents and families of the seven Apaches senior players braved the conditions to participate in a rain-soaked pregame ceremony.

But with rain not letting up, officials huddled and decided to postpone the showdown between Sanger (16-3-1, 8-1) and Bullard (15-4-4, 8-0-1) a day. With the grass field’s condition uncertain on a makeup date, the match was scheduled to be played at 3 p.m. on Thursday at San Joaquin Memorial High’s field turf in Fresno. It’s part of a girls-boys doubleheader at SJM for Sanger, as the Apaches will play Madera High in a 5:30 p.m. start.

Sanger would capture the CMAC championship with a victory, while Bullard would secure the title with a win or tie. The Knights had prevailed in a 2-1 decision in Fresno on Jan. 26, in a match delayed three days because of a lights failure in McLane Stadium (Bullard’s home field).

Before the match was officially postponed, Sanger High seniors were honored along with their parents and families in a brief presentation on the field. Recognized were Andrea Alvarenga, Nicole Gonzalez, Vale Herrera, Hayley Lopez, Hayley Marquez, Jaylyn Ramirez and Sofia Valdez.

Alvarenga, the team’s leading scorer, collected her 21st goal of the season while sophomore Ava Martinez added her 10th goal in a 2-0 shutout of Madera High on Feb. 5 in Madera.

Jon Earnest