CHICO — Not only was Wednesday night’s matchup between Pleasant Valley and Shasta High the regular-season finale, but the contest also carried some extra weight.
The Eastern Athletic League boys soccer title was up for grabs, along with the No. 1 seed throughout the Northern Section playoffs.
After Wednesday, the path to a section championship will have to roll through Redding as Shasta won its fifth straight game and held on to a 1-0 victory over Pleasant Valley at Asgard Yard.
“I think it came down to Shasta having more desire to win the game than we showed, especially in the first half,” said Vikings coach Nick Lopez. “It was really poor. We came out with no energy or desire to go kill the game right away.”
The lone goal of the game came in the 20th minute when Shasta freshman Ryan Duperet kicked a high, bouncing ball to the back of the net for a 1-0 advantage.
Despite PV having several chances, especially in the second half, the Vikings were unable to dig themselves out of a 1-0 hole.
“They put their chance away and we missed more than a few,” Lopez said. “It was not meant to be for us tonight and it was meant to be for (Shasta).”
After demanding his team “respond the right way” after allowing a goal, PV quickly found a chance to tie the game moments later on Stefano Garcia’s free kick.
Garcia, from about 25-yard out, booted a shot that grazed the top of the crossbar, sailing just high to keep the Vikings scoreless.
Later in the first half, Zach Willingam passed to Dominic Velasquez who nearly had a chance to boot a shot into the net. But the play was broken up by Shasta’s Jack Wenham who kicked the ball out of bounds preserving Shasta’s 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
In the second half, PV controlled the ball but was unable to find the back of the net.
A pair of shots from Garcia, one coming off a free kick, both soared over the crossbar.
Then in the 64th minute, PV’s Dante Jackson flicked the ball off his right foot toward the right post but Shasta keeper Ty Farrell made a diving save to his left to deny a Vikings’ goal.
“We were challenged mentally, spiritually, everything,” Lopez said. “We’re just really hoping we can learn for this moment for section (playoffs) and for state (playoffs).”
PV’s final chance to try and tie the game came off a corner kick from Garcia that was headed far right of the goal.
PV (12-4-3, 7-1-2 EAL) will likely have a rematch with Chico High in the section playoffs next week. The Vikings are projected to earn the No. 2 seed while the Panthers will be No. 3.
Shasta (11-2, 9-1 EAL) will likely face No. 4 Red Bluff at home.
“We have to have a short term memory of getting over (the loss) and getting on with it,” Lopez said. “Too bad it takes games like this to come back into the fold.”
Shasta 1, Pleasant Valley 0
Up next: NSCIF playoffs, TBA.