Watsonville High senior forward Mateo Arias will try to help the Wildcatz boys' soccer team make a deep run in the upcoming CCS Open Division playoffs. (Raul Ebio/special to The Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE—Watsonville High coach Roland Hedgpeth is a member on the Central Coast Section boys’ soccer committee board.  

On Thursday, the board got together—like they do each year—to discuss division placements, seedings and first round opponents for the upcoming postseason.

The Wildcatz earned the No. 2 seed in the Open Division field and are set to host No. 7 Lincoln (14-4-2) on Saturday at 7pm. 

Hedgpeth said it was a unanimous vote that the ‘Catz received the second-best seed, while Branham (16-1-3), the Blossom Valley Athletic League’s Mt. Hamilton Division champion, was awarded the division’s top seed.

“The rest of [the teams] were kind of in between,” he said.

If the Wildcatz win, they will play the winner of Saturday’s match between No. 3 Saint Francis (14-5-1), the West Catholic Athletic League champion, and No. 6 Santa Clara (12-5-3), the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League’s De Anza Division champion, in the semifinals on Feb. 23.  

Branham will host No. 8 Serra, third place finishers in the WCAL, on Saturday at 7pm. No. 4 Burlingame (13-1-4), the Peninsula Athletic League champion, will host No. 5 Bellarmine Prep (9-2-9), runner-up in the WCAL, on the same day at 11am.

Watsonville lost to Lincoln in last year’s CCS D-I semifinals. The Lions, runner-up in the BVAL’s Mt. Hamilton Division, also beat the ‘Catz earlier this season in the Homestead Christmas Cup’s gold division finals Dec. 18.  

Hedgpeth believes they didn’t play their best that afternoon and he’s pretty confident that they’ll have a different approach this time around.

“If these guys play like they did against Alisasl, I’m not worried about it,” he said.

Senior midfielder Lombardo Flores scored twice in the final six minutes to help lift the Wildcatz past Alisal, 3-1, in what felt like a playoff atmosphere on Feb. 10. 

Watsonville was also able to prevail with just 10 players on the pitch and beat the Trojans in the teams’ regular season finale.

“Throughout the whole season we’ve been overcoming every obstacle that was thrown our way,” Flores said. “That was just one of them and came through our way.” 

With the win, the ‘Catz (14-3-3, 8-1-1) captured the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Gabilan Division championship.

“It sounds pretty good,” Flores said about winning the program’s 47th league title.

They will now embark on a journey for their 12th CCS title when the playoffs begin Saturday.

Senior forward Mateo Arias said winning the PCAL Gabilan Division title and sweeping the Trojans was a good feeling, but he hopes that’s just the beginning of great things to come.

“It makes us feel good but we gotta focus on hopefully making it [deep] in CCS,” he said.

Hedgpeth said they’ve been playing well as of recently and he hopes they can keep the intensity up as they head into the playoffs.

“We know they can do it, we just gotta do it,” he said. 

Division I

Aptos High, runner-up in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League, earned the No. 8 seed in the Division I field.

The Mariners (13-3-2) will hit the road to play at top-seeded Aragon High, runner-up in the PAL’s Bay Division, on Saturday at 5pm. 

If they win, Aptos will square off against the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinals between No. 4 Wilcox (12-4-2), the SCVAL’s El Camino champion, and Palo Alto (9-4-5), the third place finisher in the SCVAL’s De Anza Division.

The Mariners won the SCCAL regular season crown. But coach Roberto Zuniga said he was informed prior to Thursday’s seeding meeting that Soquel High was named the new league champion.

Harbor High was forced to forfeit two of its league wins due to having ineligible players on the roster. That meant Soquel finished with a 9-1-0 record in league play just ahead of Aptos (8-1-1).

“However, I know our boys won the league title on the field the way it should be and not on technicalities,” Zuniga said.

Zuniga said they were placed in the D-I bracket based on their league record and the opponents they played during the preseason. He added that they earned 10 bonus points for beating top teams based on how they finished in their respective leagues.

“I am confident that our boys will be ready and give Aragon a great battle,” Zuniga said.

Alisal High, which placed third in the PCAL’s Gabilan Division, earned the No. 6 seed and it will play at No. 3 San Benito, winners of the PCAL’s Mission Division, on Saturday at 5pm. 

North Salinas High, runner-up in the PCAL’s Gabilan Division, earned the No. 2 seed and it will host No. 7 St. Ignatius, a fifth place finisher in the WCAL, on Saturday at 1pm.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Aptos High was the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League champion, which is incorrect. An update was given at Thursday’s Central Coast Section seeding meeting that announced Soquel High was awarded the league title due to technicalities within the league.

Division IV

Ceiba College Prep (8-5-2), winners of the PCAL’s Arroyo Division, earned the No. 4 seed in the Division IV field. They will host No. 5 Summit Prep (13-3-0), the Private School Athletic League’s North Division, on Saturday at a place and time TBD. 

If they win, the Spartans will play the winner of Saturday’s match between No. 1 King City (13-4-1), runner-up in the PCAL’s Mission Division, and No. 8 Latino College Prep (12-5-1), winners of the PSAL’s South Division, in the semifinals on Wednesday. 

Seaside High, the PCAL’s Santa Lucia Division, earned the No. 3 seed. They will host No. 6 Greenfield, runner-up in the PCAL’s Cypress Division, on Saturday at 5pm. 

The No. 2 seed was awarded to Sequoia High, third place finisher in the PAL’s Ocean Division, and it will host No. 7 El Camino (10-7-1) on Saturday at 3pm. 

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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