The Golden West and Mt. Whitney boys soccer teams were co-West Yosemite League champions last season.
Neither team looks like it did last year with a lot of roster turnover on both sides.
But whenever two crosstown rivals, who are both defending league champions and are opening a new season get together, the date is going to be circled on the calendar.
Golden West gained the early advantage in the WYL with a 2-0 victory over Mt. Whitney on Tuesday night at Groppetti Automotive Visalia Community Stadium.
“The last thing I said was last year we tied in this game and we tied for the league title,” Golden West coach John McCaw said. “I said, ‘hey, let’s win this so it doesn’t come down to that.’ I don’t know if it had any impact, but it was great to get the win. You only get 12 games and you have to take advantage of them.”
The game was scoreless for the first 30 minutes until Miguel Casas split the Mt. Whitney defense down the middle of the field and received a perfect pass from Jose Hernandez to set up a on-one-one opportunity with the goalkeeper. Casas didn’t miss as he calmly kicked the ball around the goalie and into the corner of the goal.
Prior to Golden West’s goal, Mt. Whitney had a chance to score. The Pioneers also had a one-on-one opportunity with the goalkeeper and Tanner Cook turned them away with a sliding save.
At halftime, McCaw stressed the importance of the first 10 minutes of the second half to his team.
And once again, the Trailblazers responded. Christian Ibarra scored just two minutes into the half. He received a corner kick from Santos Chavez and connected on a header.
“I thought we played a really good first half,” McCaw said. “I liked the pressure we put on Mt. Whitney and made it difficult for them to hold the ball. Overall, the second half was more even. I think we let up a bit, but they also picked it up and played much better. I was very pleased to get this win.”
The Pioneers, who also won last season’s Division III Central Section championship, are in rebuilding mode with a very young roster.
The loss dropped them to 4-6-3 overall.
“We just need to get familiar with each other,” Mt. Whitney coach Rodney Aguiar said. “We have a lot of new faces. Getting used to each others’ tendencies and hanging onto the ball and keeping possession is a big part of the game and we didn’t do a good job of that.”
The Pioneers won’t have very much time to dwell on their loss because they turn around to host El Diamante on Thursday. The Pioneers expect the Miners to have a little extra motivation because the two teams played in the Lemoore Tournament with the Pioneers winning 3-0.
Golden West plays at Hanford.