High School Sports

Prep boys soccer: Buchanan reaches third straight D-I final

JT Arruda scored Buchanan’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Bullard that sends the Bears to the Central Section Division I boys soccer final.
JT Arruda scored Buchanan’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Bullard that sends the Bears to the Central Section Division I boys soccer final. nickg@fresnobee.com

Oliver Dolberg knows and embraces the expectations placed on himself and the rest of the defenders on the Buchanan High boys soccer team.

“We expect to go out and keep a shutout every game,” Dolberg said. “Coach (John Spurgeon) expects that, too. Nothing but the best. Defense wins championships. And we continue to get shutouts.”

The top-seeded Bears posted their 16th shutout of the season in a 2-0 victory over No. 4 Bullard on Tuesday that clinched the program’s fifth trip to the Central Section Division I finals in the past six seasons.

Buchanan (19-1-7) will host No. 7 Centennial at 1 p.m. Saturday seeking their fifth D-I championship in the past six years and the sixth section title in program history. The Golden Hawks beat No. 3 Liberty-Bakersfield 2-1 in OT in the other semifinal.

Dolberg and fellow defenders Colson Verhalen, Josaiah Trejo and goalkeeper Ryan Bray – all senior third-year starters, along with midfielders JT Arruda and Tommy Reynolds – have formed the heart of a defense that has led the way to back-to-back championships for the Bears, who are ranked No. 13 nationally by topdrawersoccer.com.

Dolberg, Verhalen, Trejo and sophomore defender Austin Roberts didn’t yield much to the County/Metro Athletic Conference co-champion Knights, and the few shots they did allow, Bray was there to swallow up. Bray made saves on six of 11 shots by Bullard (14-5-5) in the second half.

“A lot of it has to do with experience – they have been there before,” Spurgeon said. “For everything they have accomplished, I really wanted to get back (to the championship) for them and give them a chance to three-peat.”

Myles Dornhofer got Buchanan rolling in the 12th minute when he took a header from Trejo, powered his way through two defenders and blasted a low liner past Knights goalkeeper Cameron Drzazga.

“There was a big open gap,” Dornhofer said. “He came out up in the air, so I hit it on the ground.”

The Bears got an insurance goal in the 64th minute when Jacob Rudolph drew a foul just outside the box along the left post, setting up a free kick for Arruda. With a wall to his left and the goalkpeer playing in the middle of the cage, Arruda drilled a high bender toward the far post that curved in just out of Drzazga’s reach.

“I’ve been working on that all year,” Arruda said. “So I tried to hit it to that spot.”

Arruda is seeking his third section title ring after providing an assist in Buchanan’s 1-0 victory over Liberty in the final last season and scoring the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win against Bullard for the title in 2014.

“This has basically been our goal from the start,” Arruda said. “We’ve just got to win it now.”

Nick Giannandrea: 559-441-6103, @NickG_FB

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