Enrique García was a senior starter during the infancy of the soccer program at Madera South High School in the 2009-10 season.
He scored three goals in six matches as the Stallions posted a modest 17-11-1 record, their first winning season in history. The previous year, the team went 6-13-2.
On a wet, first Saturday of March at Madera High’s Memorial Stadium, García was all smiles as his team captured the CIF Northern California championship with a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Sacred Heart Preparatory of San Francisco.
With the win, the Stallions capped a 25-5-1 season after also winning the CIF Central Section title.
“First the Valley championship, then state championship,” said García, who was drenched with Gatorade by his players about a minute before the whistle sounded. “Every step you take, you’re making history. What can you say?”
It wasn’t an easy game for Madera South, as the visitors responded to a 26th-minute goal by junior forward David Vásquez on a corkscrew beauty by Ellis Brenneman six minutes later.
It took a shot by Christian García that sailed over Sacred Heart goalie Kelekolio Mateo to break the deadlock just before halftime.
Madera South added second-half goals by Abraham Vásquez (David’s cousin) and Arturo Zavala to build a 4-1 lead.
Sacred Heart’s Zach Thomas scored on a penalty kick in the waning minutes against goalie Alex Morales to conclude the scoring.
Madera South sophomore starting goalkeeper Luis Segura had earlier blocked a penalty kick.
“We all play as a team,” said Abraham Vásquez. “We create a space, we all play a position from goalkeeper to the middle.”
He had a chance to score a second goal in the second half when he booted the ball over the post of an empty net after juking out the goalie.
“I got too excited on that one,” said Vásquez. “I should’ve kept calm like I always do.”
García, the head coach, was thrilled with the season.
“Valley as our goal, and state just ended up being the cherry on top,” said García. “This is them believing in the system. They gave their all the entire year.”
García credited former Madera South coach Bobby Gutiérrez for building the foundation.
“It couldn’t have happened without him,” he said. “He started a legacy. We want to continue it and make him proud.”
Madera South was seeded third in the playoffs; Sacred Heart (15-8-3) was seeded fourth.
The Stallions went 14-10-2 last season in García’s first year as head coach. The school was 15-10 the previous season, and 7-7-5- in 2015-16.