Williams boys soccer opens Nor Cal Regional Tournament with win, falls in semis

Williams High School’s first Northern Section boys soccer title in a decade paved the way for a new level of competition — the Northern California Regional Tournament — and the Yellowjackets kicked off Division IV action last Tuesday with a 5-0 shutout of Live Oak.

The fourth-ranked Yellowjackets dominated the pitch with five different scorers, three coming in the last five minutes of the first half for a commanding 3-0 halftime lead.

Williams coach Humberto Guzman said he stuck with the game plan they’ve had all season, which involves quick passes and keeping constant pressure on the opponent.

The fifth-ranked Live Oak squad averaged less than one shot on goal for every 10 minutes of play, so it was only a matter of time before Williams’ offense scored.

In the 35th minute, Martin Gomez passed to teammate Mauricio Morales in front of the net for the first goal. Three minutes later, Gerardo Gomez centered a pass toward Jorge Rodriguez. Before the break, Omar Paniagua joined the offensive with a rocket from the top of the goal box, making it 3-0.

“The kids came out with a positive mentality — that we couldn’t lose at home,” Guzman said.

The Yellowjackets stuck with the game plan, utilizing precise passing for controlled ball movement. Though Williams continued to threaten in the second half, the last two scores came in the last 10 minutes of the contest.

Uriel Velazquez seized a loose ball in front of the net for the team’s fourth goal, and Antonio Gonzalez came off the bench to earn an assist on the final score. He crossed toward the center, perfectly leading teammate Alex Martinez, who charged in for the goal.

Williams goalkeeper Diego Jauregui recorded seven saves to earn the shutout, which vaulted the Yellowjackets to the NorCal semifinals.

Le Grand 5, Williams 1

On Thursday, Williams embarked on a three-hour journey to top-ranked Le Grand High School, on the outskirts of Merced, and lost 5-1.

“I believe they were one of the toughest teams we faced this season,” Guzman said. “I’m proud of my kids for making it this far.”

The game was tied 1-1 at halftime, with Morales scoring on a centered pass from Jesus Paiz. Guzman said the Yellowjackets had three or four good chances to pull ahead, but they were unable to score again.

Le Grand surged ahead in the second half, hindering the Yellowjackets’ confidence, and put the game out of reach with two more goals in the last three minutes of the game.

Williams finished the season with a record of 13-4-2 (6-2-1 MVL).