Kacey Held solidified her soccer and educational future Wednesday when she put her signature on a college scholarship offer from Cal Poly.
Later that evening, Held helped secure the Tri-River Athletic Conference championship for a Buchanan High girls soccer team that's top-ranked in the Central Section with lofty goals still remaining.
Held scored two goals within the game's first 20 minutes and the Bears' defense made them stand up in a 2-0 victory over No. 8 Clovis at Lamonica Stadium to clinch at least a share of the TRAC title. Buchanan (21-0-1, 8-0) can win the title outright with a victory in one of its final two regular-season games: Friday at Clovis East or Feb. 10 at home against Central.
But the TRAC is only the first step for a team that hopes to win a fifth straight section Division I title and play in the CIF Southern California Regional D-I championship March 13. The Bears were beaten by San Clemente 3-2 in last season's SoCal Regional final.
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"We've got unfinished business this year," Held said. "We want that [regional] championship. You can't ride the coattails of last season. You still have to work."
Buchanan is certainly playing like a team on a mission.
The Bears have won 16 straight games since their only blemish of the season, a 0-0 tie against Liberty-Bakersfield at the Liberty Tournament on Dec. 5. Buchanan has played only two games decided by fewer than two goals since.
"We've grown and developed on the field, and we're playing as a real team," said defender Emily Fernandez, who will play for NAIA team William Jessup in Rocklin next season. "Last year is a real driving force. We got a taste of what that feels like, and we want to keep feeling that."
Buchanan is No. 7 in the ESPN Fab 50 national poll.
"Our combination play is as good as I've seen it," Bears coach Erik Farfan said. "We've got girls who can put it in the back of the net, our defense is really coming along and our goalie is playing well. Our chances are as good as they've been."