BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
The Bakersfield High boys soccer team completed two important tasks in closing out the regular season by beating Frontier 3-0 on Thursday night.
The Drillers not only avenged their only Southwest Yosemite League loss but also kept their momentum rolling heading into the Central Section playoffs.
Kameron Theodore, Thomas Luna, and Leonel Cruz scored goals for BHS (17-3-2, 9-1 SWYL), which lost 4-0 to Frontier (9-8-3, 6-4) in the teams' first meeting of the season.
"It was a well-fought game," Theodore said. "Frontier came out pretty fired up. We just came out hard. We really wanted avenge the last time we played them because it was pretty nasty."
This time it was a much different story as the Drillers established control early, with Theodore knocking a header into the back of the net just three minutes into the game. Bakersfield maintained control throughout.
"That makes us feel a little bit better because they were the team that took us pretty bad this year," BHS coach Archie Parks said.
"I'm happy that (tonight) we got a shutout. Going into the playoffs that gives us a leg up by having a 3-0 win. That's a pretty big deal for us."
BHS, which finished nine points ahead of the second-place Titans in the final SWYL standings, will now have to wait until Saturday to see where it will be seeded for the Central Section playoffs.
The Drillers will enter the postseason having won five straight matches and nine of their last 10.
"I think we can play with anybody in the Valley," Parks said. "If we're on our game, we're a great team. But we just have to play for 80 minutes. We've had some games where we come out the first half kind of flat. People score on us and we have to battle back."
BHS made sure Frontier didn't mount a comeback on Thursday as Luna blasted a long shot past Frontier goalkeeper Noah Stewart, a foreign exchange student from Norway, for a goal late in the first half to make it 2-0.
"We played pretty good," Luna said. "We started off kind of slow, but then as the game went along we started getting into a rhythm and touching like we usually do."
Stewart had his hands full all game against a Drillers squad that had scored 33 goals in its previous nine SWYL games.
BHS peppered him with nine shots on goal, including Cruz's late-game score, a perfectly executed quick-flick header off a beautiful long pass from Geovanni Gonzalez.
Frontier had seven shots on goal. Despite being down 2-0, the Titans played aggressively during a second half in which five yellow cards were handed out.
"We played solid soccer," Frontier coach Ben Warren said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't find the goal and they did. That happens sometimes in soccer. But overall good intensity and good play. Not a bad way to go into the playoffs."
The Titans and Drillers have no chance of facing each other again in the playoffs since BHS will be competing in D-I and Frontier in D-II.
Both are hoping for a good draw when the brackets for each division are unveiled.
"I'd be disappointed if we didn't get (seeded) either one, two, or three," Parks said. "If we go lower than that, I think we got cheated."