The playoffs have brought the best out of the Pacheco High boys soccer team.
The Panthers will get a shot at a second consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section championship after cruising to a 3-0 win over Buhach Colony on Tuesday night in the Division III semifinals at Pacheco High's Veterans Stadium.
"In the playoffs the kids have picked it up a notch," said Pacheco co-coach Mike Perkins.
The top-seeded Panthers (15-0-6) have steamrolled their way through their half of the bracket, outscoring their three playoff opponents 15-0.
Pacheco opened the postseason with a pair of 6-0 wins over No. 16 Rosemont and No. 8 River Valley.
The Panthers then needed all of 5 minutes to jump out to a 1-0 lead against No. 5 Buhach Colony. Senior Rodolfo Rivera fired off a shot and Cesar Martinez was there to punch in the rebound.
The game was played at a quick pace as both teams were able to put scoring opportunities together, but the game stayed 1-0 until intermission.
The Panthers made some adjustments at the half and kept the pressure on the Thunder most of the second half.
Pacheco's Matias Gomez found Pablo Ortiz streaking down the right side and delivered a pass in stride. Ortiz made a move to get around Buhach Colony goalie Adrian Bracamontes to set up a wide open net for a 2-0 lead in the 46th minute.
Rivera set up Ortiz with another goal later in the second half to extend the lead to 3-0.
"This feels good," Ortiz said. "We've been working for this accomplishment. This team wanted to get back to the section championship. This is what we've been working toward all year."
The journey back to the section championship has been different than last year.
When you set your sights on a big goal like a section championship, sometimes the regular season isn't as exciting. That's been the case for the Panthers this season.
"We haven't cared about the wins and losses," said co-coach Wes Wing. "We've been more concerned with how we play."
It's not that they've struggled. Pacheco went undefeated during the regular season with a 12-0-6 record and won a competitive Western Athletic Championship.
"This team has bought into the process," Perkins said. "Coaching this team, we haven't been results driven. This team enjoys putting in the work day in and day out. They like getting better each day in practice."
All that work, all those practices, have led the Panthers back to the big stage with another shot at a blue banner on Saturday. Pacheco will face No. 3 seed Antelope, which defeated No. 2 Bella Vista 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Pacheco and Antelope will play in the Division III championship at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Cosumnes Oaks High in Elk Grove.
Livingston 3, Natomas 0 in Livingston The Wolves (16-2-6) earned a shot at the Division IV championship with a semifinal win over Natomas. Tony Aguilar finished with a hat trick, scoring all three of Livingston's goals.
The Wolves will face top seed Galt in the championship game on Saturday at Elk Grove at 2 p.m.