Aztecs eyeing run at SoCal Regional title

Aztecs eyeing run at SoCal Regional title

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Aztecs eyeing run at SoCal Regional title

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When the Farmersville boys soccer team was making its run to the Central Section Division VI championship, senior forward Freddy Vazquez talked about how one of the Aztecs’ goals was to play for the Southern California Regional title.

“We reached [regionals] three years ago, my freshman year, and I believe if we can reach that level again, we’ll be a team to remember,” Vazquez said after his team’s 4-1 win over Firebaugh on Feb. 15. “I think we can get further than Valley. That would be a great thing for us.”

The Aztecs had just won their first Central Section playoff game and still had work to do just to win a Valley title, so coach Michael Jordan didn’t want to hear any talk about a state or a regional playoff.

Farmersville went on to win the program’s fourth Central Section title, and after a week of waiting, found out it was selected to represent the Central Section in the Southern California Regional Division III playoffs.

Now the Aztecs can start talking about taking the next step.

No. 3 Farmersville will host No. 6 Chadwick-Palos Verdes Peninsula, of the Southern Section, at 4 p.m. today.

“I think it is a realistic goal for any of the teams that make it,” Jordan said of his team’s chances to win. “To be considered, you have to be a strong team. I am proud that the Central Section deemed us strong enough to go.”

The Aztecs weren’t the runaway choice to represent the Central Section in the Division III bracket.

Orosi, which won the Division V championship and defeated Farmersville in the regular-season finale, was also eligible in Division III.

But Farmersville earned the Central Section’s automatic bid.

The reason: The Aztecs posted a 22-4-3, captured the East Sierra League championship, and posted a win over the Central Section’s Division III champion Roosevelt in a penalty kick shootout at the Harold S. Young Invitational.

A total of seven Central Section teams earned SoCal Regional berths.

Golden Valley won the Central Section Division II boys championship and earned the No. 2 seed in the Division I Regional, Roosevelt earned the No. 3 seed in the Division II Regional and Farmersville is the No. 3 seed in Division III

Representing the girls in Division I is Buchanan as the No. 4 seed and Highland is the No. 4 seed in Division II. Two teams were selected for the Division III bracket. Caruthers won the Central Section Division IV title and earned the No. 3 seed in the Division III regional, and Central Section Division II champion Garces is the No. 5 seed in the regional.

No Central Section team has won a SoCal Regional title in the previous five years the tournament has been held.

“I think we have had nine teams, boys and girls, make the championship and we have yet to bring one home,” Jordan said. “The Central Section is right on the cusp. I’d like to see one of these teams win it. I wish Golden Valley and Roosevelt the best, and I wish the girls all the best.”

The Aztecs have seen some of their rivals make the SoCal championship game.

Last year, Lindsay made the Division II title game, and McFarland reached the Division III championship.

The Aztecs just may have talented enough players at each level of the game needed in order to make a run at the championship.

They have deadly strikers in Vazquez and Pedro Berber. Vazquez leads the team with 30 goals and 10 assists, and Berber has 24 goals and 14 assists.

They also have a playmaker in the middle of the field in Ramon Franco, who has 22 assists and six goals.

And they have a shutdown defender in Johnny Cervantes.

After a week off from games, Jordan is hoping his team is ready to step back onto the pitch for a game that counts.

“We were working hard,” Jordan said. “The boys were there and putting in good work. It is different from when you’re playing games so I hope we’re not rusty.”

The Aztecs made the SoCal Regional playoffs three years ago. Franco was on the field for that game so he has some experience.

For the rest of the players, Jordan’s advice is simple.

“It is still just another soccer game,” he said. “Granted, we’re proud to be one of the eight teams in the tournament. We just have to go out and play like there’s no tomorrow. If we win, great. If we don’t, it doesn’t diminish what we’ve done.”

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