McLane High’s boys and Clovis East’s girls – programs that have never captured Central Section soccer championships – were given home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by Commissioner Jim Crichlow and his assistants Friday.
The Highlanders (20-5-1) were seeded first in Division IV boys and the Timberwolves (17-0-3) No. 1 in D-I girls.
Eight of the other 10 top seeds are reigning section champions in the Buchanan (D-I), South (D-II) and McFarland (D-V) boys, and Madera South (D-II), Liberty-Madera Ranchos (D-III), Strathmore (D-IV), Fowler (D-V) and Frazier Mountain (D-VI) girls.
Also earning top seeds were the Ridgeview (D- III) and Mendota (D-VI) boys.
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McLane was rewarded for a season in which it won the Gold A Division of the Garces Holiday Soccer Festival and the school’s first North Yosemite League boys soccer title since 1979.
“We were ranked pretty high on MaxPreps, but that doesn’t mean anything when the CIF comes together,” coach Ramiro Teran said. “We’re very happy we got the No. 1 seed.”
The Highlanders were D-IV runners-up last season, losing 2-1 at Washington. If they reach the final this season, it will be at McLane Stadium, where they are 7-0.
McLane is led by Juan Flores (24 goals, 17 assists) and Sergio Gonzalez (14 goals, 15 assists). After a first-round bye, the Highlanders will face No. 8 Arvin or No. 9 Woodlake in the quarterfinals Thursday.
I like our chances at home.
McLane boys soccer coach Ramiro Teran, whose D-IV top-seeded team is 7-0-0 at McLane Stadium
“I like our chances at home,” Teran said. “The field is so much better than other fields the way our stadium guy takes care of it. He’s done a great job. It’s really smooth.”
Tri-River Athletic Conference champion Clovis East is the section’s only officially undefeated team.
Two of the Timberwolves’ ties came in tournament finals, finishing second at the Harold S. Young on penalty kicks to Madera South (which still counts as a draw) and first at the Garces Holiday Premier A Division on penalty kicks over Clovis West.
Clovis East is 6-0-1 at home this season, including a 1-0 win over four-time defending D-I champion Buchanan that helped springboard the Timberwolves to only the second TRAC title in program history.
Led by Nikki Crouch (14 goals, 11 assists) and Peyton Kwalwasser (13 goals, 10 assists), Clovis East awaits No. 8 Centennial or No. 9 Central in a Feb. 19 quarterfinal.
“The girls are very excited and motivated now that it’s playoff time,” Timberwolves coach Jasara Gillette said. “We had our first season, and we did really well. Now we’ve got to do well in our second season.”
Other reigning champions are Dinuba (D-III) and Avenal (D-VI) in boys play.
▪ The boys playoffs will open Tuesday and the girls Wednesday.
▪ The semifinals are Feb. 23; finals are Feb. 26 for hosts with lights, Feb. 27 for those without.
CENTRAL SECTION SOCCER PLAYOFFS
Opening round Wednesday
No. 9 Central at No. 8 Centennial
No. 11 Buchanan at No. 6 Clovis West
No. 10 Stockdale at No. 7 Clovis North
Byes: No. 1 Clovis East, No. 2 Bullard, No. 3 Clovis, No. 4 Frontier, No. 5 Liberty-Bakersfield
No. 9 Bakersfield at No. 8 Tulare Western
No. 12 Monache at No. 5 Highland
No. 13 Sunnyside at No. 4 Edison
No. 14 Central Valley Christian at No. 3 Madera
No. 11 Tulare at No. 6 Lemoore
No. 10 Memorial at No. 7 Garces
Byes: No. 1 Madera South, No. 2 Redwood
No. 9 Hanford at No. 8 Mission Oak
No. 11 Selma at No. 6 Tehachapi
No. 10 Reedley at No. 7 Golden West
Byes: No. 1 Liberty-Madera Ranchos, No. 2 Hoover, No. 3 East Bakersfield, No. 4 Independence, No. 5 Yosemite
No. 9 Sierra at No. 8 Fresno
No. 12 South at No. 5 Exeter
No. 11 Roosevelt at No. 6 Kingsburg
No. 10 McLane at No. 7 Caruthers
Byes: No. 1 Strathmore, No. 2 Bakersfield Christian, No. 3 Foothill, No. 4 Taft
No. 9 Coalinga at No. 8 Sierra Pacific
No. 12 Washington at No. 5 Shafter
No. 13 Delano at No. 4 Woodlake
No. 6 Kern Valley at No. 11 Kennedy
No. 10 Dos Palos at No. 7 Orosi
Byes: No. 1 Fowler, No. 2 McFarland, No. 3 Bishop
Feb. 19 quarterfinals
No. 8 Arvin at No. 1 Frazier Mountain
No. 5 Immanuel at No. 4 Farmersville
No. 6 Firebaugh at No. 3 Minarets
No. 7 Fresno Christian at No. 2 Mendota
Opening round Tuesday
No. 9 Sunnyside at No. 8 Clovis North
No. 12 Bakersfield at No. 5 Clovis
No. 11 Clovis West at No. 6 Golden Valley
No. 10 Clovis East at No. 7 Centennial
Byes: No. 1 Buchanan, No. 2 Central, No. 3 Liberty-Bakersfield, No. 4 Bullard
No. 9 Sanger at No. 8 Stockdale
No. 11 East Bakersfield at No. 6 Selma
No. 10 Frontier at No. 7 Madera
Byes: No. 1 South, No. 2 Edison, No. 3 Golden West, No. 4 El Diamante, No. 5 Reedley
No. 9 Wasco at No. 8 Highland
No. 11 Porterville at No. 6 Roosevelt
No. 10 Mission Oak at No. 7 Madera South
Byes: No. 1 Ridgeview, No. 2 Tulare, No. 3 Independence, No. 4 Dinuba, No. 5 Mt. Whitney
No. 9 Woodlake at No. 8 Arvin
No. 12 Taft at No. 5 Delano
No. 13 Garces at No. 4 Lindsay
No. 14 Kingsburg at No. 3 Kerman
No. 11 Chowchilla at No. 6 Hanford
No. 10 Parlier at No. 7 Orosi
Byes: No. 1 McLane, No. 2 Washington
No. 9 Chavez at No. 8 Sierra
No. 11 Bishop at No. 6 Fowler
No. 10 Corcoran at No. 7 Caruthers
Byes: No. 1 McFarland, No. 2 Riverdale, No. 3 Rosamond, No. 4 Kennedy, No. 5 Coalinga
No. 9 Wonderful College Prep Academy at No. 8 Fresno Christian
No. 11 California City at No. 6 Frazier Mountain
No. 10 Bakersfield Christian at No. 7 Central Valley Christian
Byes: No. 1 Mendota, No. 2 Avenal, No. 3 Exeter, No. 4 Tranquillity, No. 5 Strathmore