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By Casey Christie / The Californian
BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
In a league race where nearly every game is competitive and could go either way, the Bakersfield High boys soccer team continues to rack up the wins.
Now they need just one more.
The Drillers clinched at least a share of the Southwest Yosemite League title with a 3-2 victory Saturday at Centennial.
BHS can clinch the SWYL championship outright with a win or tie in either of its final two games.
After a back-and-forth battle, Colby Evans finally put the Drillers ahead of the Golden Hawks for good in the 71st minute with a beautiful header for a goal.
"We're in first right now so we just wanted to keep winning," Evans said. "It doesn't matter who scores. We just want to win."
Prior to that, Centennial twice fought back from one-goal deficits to tie things up.
"Centennial is a good team," BHS coach Archie Parks said. "There is no doubt about that. They came back and they very much could have won that game. They had chances. We just weren't quite up for it today and it's going to come back and bite us one of these times if we don't put 100-percent in."
Gonzalo Rolan and Jose Tavera each had first-half goals for BHS, which led 2-1 at halftime.
Centennial's goals were scored by Jordan Reding and Mauricio Moreno.
"It's definitely not the result we wanted and needed," Centennial coach Jeff Vaughan said. "I thought it was a good game. We battled hard, having to come back each time. ... We were a bit unlucky. I thought we had another (goal) down here. Some of my guys thought it crossed the line but obviously the linesman didn't think so and the referee didn't think so."
Early in the second half, Moreno dribbled through several defenders and then blasted a high, hard shot that BHS goalkeeper Cesar Luevano could only get his fingertips on en route to the back of the net.
From there it was a stalemate until Evans knocked home what turned out to be the game-winning goal off of a perfectly placed pass into the far side of the box from Javier Fernandez.
"It was an easy goal," Evans said. "I give all credit to Javy. It was a beautiful ball. I just got lucky I got the finish."
BHS was also lucky that Tavera was able to time his goal perfectly.
Just seconds before first-half time expired, he hammered a low free kick from just outside the box past diving Centennial goal keeper Josh Schultz.
Both sides played much better defense in the final 40 minutes.
There were 10 shots on goal in the first half and only five in the second half.
Prior to Evans' quick-strike goal, the game appeared to be heading to overtime just like the first meeting between the two teams.
BHS won that game 4-2.
While beating Centennial has been a challenge, the Drillers have steamrolled many of their other opponents on the way to reaching the top of SWYL standings.
Now they're on the cusp of accomplishing one of their goals this season.
"It has been awhile (since we've won a league title)," Parks said. "I think we shared one about six years ago. But that's not good enough. We want to win it outright."