Pacheco's league opener was everything the Panthers could have hoped for -- except for the "W" after a 10-9 loss that came down to the last play.
"It was a close game. We could have made it, we were so close, but the guys played great, so we're happy with that," first-year Pacheco coach Josh Weinberger said. "I was expecting us to win. I felt really good about it, so yeah, I was expecting it to be that close or for us on top."
After trailing 10-6 at the end of the third quarter, Pacheco went to work, with Daniel Judson and Brian King scoring right off the bat. With 1:46 remaining, Anthony Juarez closed the gap to one with a goal in the top left corner after a Gregory Fedalizo steal.
"We just never stop is pretty much what was going on. I think in this game, we've really come together and become a team," Pacheco goalkeeper Spencer Heaton said. "(We felt like) we can do this. I was like, we're going to come back, we're going to do it."
Heaton blocked a Ceres shot on the next possession -- one of 16 saves for Heaton -- and Pacheco's first chance to tie it ended with a Fedalizo shot off the goalpost.
Ceres gave up the ball on a shot-clock violation, and Pacheco called timeout as soon as possession changed, leaving the Panthers with 7.8 seconds to score.
"Basically, with 7 seconds, there's no time to drive, there's no time to pass," Weinberger said, "it's just get the shot and hope for the best."
The only real planning was to get the ball in the hands of Judson, whom Weinberger described as the strongest shooter that day. Judson raised himself up and launched his shot from the outside. A defender deflected it just enough, and the ball bounced off the crossbar as time expired.
"I got the ball and gave it to Daniel, and he had to do a quick shot, we only had seven seconds left," Heaton said. "Unfortunately they had a forest of hands up there, so it was hard to get that through. It was very close."
Despite coming up one goal short, Pacheco sees the game as a statement to the league -- the Panthers don't plan to roll over for anyone.
"I think it's important for Pacheco. This is our first year with seniors, and everybody's been discounting us," Weinberger said. "So I think it's good for somebody to get out there and say look, we are competitive. We can play. The football team's starting to do it, and I hope the water polo team can continue this way and show that we're really out there to play."
A few hours after the game, Pacheco's volleyball team earned its first league win against Ceres.
Pacheco's girls water polo team didn't fare as well, coming up on the wrong end of a 28-9 loss to Ceres. Olivia Andrade led the Panthers with six goals and a pair of assists. Vicky Ramirez added three assists and a pair of goals, and Nicole Ketchum assisted on two goals.
"It was nice as a first league game to see what was going on," Pacheco coach Jill Brooks said. "To see where things are going."
The same day in Modesto, Los Banos High's girls routed Central Catholic 15-6. Alyssa Luna led the Tigers with four goals, while Mackenzie Hurley and Mayra Espitia each added three. Goalkeeper Sydney Gerstenberg blocked eight Central Catholic shots.
LB's boys team also came up victorious, winning 16-6.
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org