For the fifth time in six years, Buchanan High is the Tri-River Athletic Conference girls soccer champion.
And that means more to Bears coach Erik Farfan than just the addition of another banner on the gymnasium wall.
"The TRAC continues to be one of the toughest leagues in the Valley, if not the toughest," Farfan said. "To win the title is a statement that we're a contender for the Valley championship."
Buchanan, ranked second in the Central Section by The Bee, set itself up to chase the Division I title as one of the top seeds following a 4-0 victory over Clovis East on Friday afternoon.
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The five-time defending D-I champions' stiffest competition for the No. 1 seed -- and homefield advantage throughout the postseason -- appears to be Bullard, which is top-ranked, without a loss to section opposition and the County/Metro Athletic Conference champion. The Knights and Bears tied 0-0 at the Peggy Renberg Tournament in December, though Buchanan won a penalty-kick tiebreaker for the purpose of tournament standings.
Bakersfield's power D-I programs -- Stockdale, Bakersfield and Liberty -- all have multiple losses and trail Division II Frontier in the Southwest Yosemite League. The playoffs begin Feb. 15.
After stumbling to a 2-2 tie against Clovis in its prior game, Buchanan (13-2-3, 8-0-1) took control quickly against Clovis East, getting a goal from Tori Sena off a Hannah Coyle assist 10 minutes in.
"It was key to get a few goals early and take the pressure off," Farfan said. "That allowed us to play a lot of girls."
Elise Krieghoff took over from there, scoring two of her three goals before halftime -- on assists from Coyle and Lexi Camacho -- to allow Farfan to liberally use his 24-person roster, including seven seniors playing their last regular-season home game.
"To win 4-0 takes a lot of teamwork," said Krieghoff, who completed a hat trick with a second-half goal off a Kristen Bridges assist. "Our team showed up, and when we're working hard, no one is going to stop us.
"Our defense really shut them down. I'm happy all the seniors got to play. It was a good way to win the TRAC. We kept the dynasty going."