Sunnyside High’s underdog run through the Central Section Division I boys soccer playoffs has taken the Wildcats to the championship game.
Eighth-seeded Sunnyside knocked off top-seeded Clovis 2-1 in last week’s quarterfinals, then beat No. 5 Bullard on penalty kicks, 5-4, after the teams were tied 1-0 through regulation and overtime in Tuesday’s semifinal.
Now the Wildcats face No. 2 Clovis North, which advanced with a 2-0 semifinal victory over No. 6 Buchanan.
The championship game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Clovis North and pits former Fresno City College teammates now coaching, Sunnyside’s Fabian Rangel and Clovis North’s Cameron Shahrokhi.
Clovis North lost to Clovis 3-1 in last year’s final, then split Tri-River Athletic Conference meetings with Clovis this season. Sunnyside won the North Yosemite League and is on a 14-game winning streak since tying Clovis North 1-1 back in December.
Twelve Central Section finals (six boys, six girls) were set with results of Tuesday’s semifinals. Nine top seeds advanced, including all six in girls led by No. 1 Buchanan, which beat Clovis 2-0 in a semifinal and now heads to Bakersfield to face top-seeded Liberty in a final set for 6 p.m. Tuesday. Buchanan has won five section titles this decade but none since 2015.
In other semifinal highlights, the Division III top-seeded Washington Union boys beat Tulare Union 1-0 on a goal by Luis Valenzuela just before halftime on an assist by Yoni Salais, who leads the Panthers (27-1) with 34 goals and 21 assists.
Another small-school powerhouse, the Orosi girls, beat Washington Union 3-2 on Stephanie Figueroa’s goal with 10 minutes left. The Cardinals (27-0-2) host No. 3 Sierra Pacific on Friday at 6 p.m. in Division V.