The Pacheco High boys soccer team fell short of their goal for a second consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section championshp.
Antelope’s Ben Kikanovic scored three goals as the Titans (17-5-1) handed the Panthers their first loss of the season in the Division III championship game at Cosumnes Oaks High on Saturday.
Antelope took advantage of a Pacheco team that wasn’t at its best on the big stage.
“We didn’t play like ourselves,” said Panthers co-coach Mike Perkins. “Credit Antelope. They took advantage of it. We created a lot of our own issues.”
It didn’t take long for the Titans to get on the board.
Antelope took advantage of defensive mistakes by the Panthers.
Pacheco goalie Jesus Lopez-Flores came out to the edge of the penalty box to try to retrieve the ball, but Kikanovic beat him to the spot and was able to get off a shot into the empty net for a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the match.
Kikanovic’s size and speed gave the Panthers fits throughout the match.
“If you give a good player the ball in dangerous positions, he’s going to take advantage of it more times than not,” Perkins said. “We let him get the ball in dangerous positions too many times.”
Ryan Muresan tacked on another goal in the 20th minute to give the Titans a 2-0 lead.
Kikanovic added goals in the 48th minute and another on a penalty kick late in the match to bring his season total to 38 goals, which ranks ninth in the state.
Pablo Ortiz scored Pacheco’s goal late in the second half, but by that time, the Panthers trailed 3-1.
There were a flurry of yellow cards toward the end of the match as the action got chippy. Kikanovic received two yellow cards in the match.
Pacheco (14-1-6) was hoping they would receive an at-large berth in the Northern California Regional playoffs, but the Panthers were left out of the fied.