The Denair High School boys soccer team is back in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs and back to winning. As the No. 1 seed in their bracket with a 20-6-2 overall and 10-2-2 Southern Athletic League record, the Coyotes played to a 2-1 victory over the No. 8 Woodland Christian Cardinals (6-5 in the Sierra Delta League) in the opening round on Friday night despite dealing with a number of injuries.
The two-time defending section champions have been without the Padilla brothers, David and Goliath for the past two weeks. David, a senior captain, has been nursing a quad injury since Jan. 26 and was inactive for their playoff opener. Goliath, a sophomore, pushed through pain in his right hamstring to make his first appearance since Jan. 30. The decision to let Goliath play Friday was one that head coach and father Antonio admitted saved their season, as he scored both goals to keep their dreams of a three-peat alive.
“I knew he was in pain, and I told him, ‘If it’s too much, we can have you rest.’ But he refused. He said he was playing no matter what. There was no chance he was not going to play today,” Antonio shared.
Goliath put his team ahead in the 31st after he was pushed by a Woodland defender inside of the goalie box, forcing a penalty kick — a shot that he made with ease.
It seemed as if the Coyotes would put up a plethora of points, but opposing goalkeeper Joaquin Rodriguez had other ideas. In the first half alone, he had seven saves. Then, just minutes after their first goal, sophomore forward Octavio Valle was forced to leave due to an injured knee.
With the score at 1-0 late into first half stoppage time, the Coyotes let their guard down for just a second, and a second was all forward Carter Lang needed to get into the open field to fire a strike past Denair goalie Sergio Torres to knot things up heading into the intermission.
“Once they scored to tie it up 1-1, our energy just went down a little bit. I knew I had to pick my team back up and motivate them,” Goliath said.
He accomplished that goal in the 46th minute by doing his best David Beckham impression, delivering a strike from roughly 30 yards out from the far side of the field that curved into the back corner of the net. He then did an impersonation of Michael Jordan, turning to his joyous teammates to shake his head and shrug.
“That’s a bad man,” one of his teammates jokingly yelled towards him as he made the gesture.
“If I'm anywhere near the box or inside the box and I see an opening, I’ll just take a shot no matter what, and that’s what I did,” Goliath said.
With a 2-1 lead, the Denair defense held strong, allowing the Cardinals to only get one shot-on-goal for the remainder of the day.
“Other than that one goal, we kept them away pretty good. We shut them down,” said defensive captain Emanuel Renteria.
Antonio praised the defensive effort.
“They are very important for us, all the guys back playing defense,” he said. “It was a close game, closer than what we all wanted, but it was exciting, and the boys got the job done.”
The Coyotes will be back at home on Tuesday at 6 p.m. to take on the Millennium High Falcons (Tracy) in the semifinal match. The Falcons 6-7-2 overall in the 2023-2024 season and had a 6-2-2 record in the Central California Athletic Alliance.