This week is the end of Mother Lode League competition for soccer and basketball. Here’s how the league championships look so far, and a look at the playoffs that start Feb. 17.
The game of the week is at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday when the Sonora Wildcats take on the Summerville Bears for a winners-take-all match to decide this 2019-2020 season’s Mother Lode League champions in varsity boys soccer.
The game will be played at Sonora High’s Dunlavy Field.
Sonora and Summerville are tied at the top of the league with 7 wins, 1 tie, and 1 loss each this season. Regardless of the outcomes of other games Tuesday, no other teams can catch up to Sonora and Summerville.
“As far as head-to-head to determine a league winner this is definitely a rare occurrence,” Dave Reel, the Summerville varsity boys soccer coach said last week. “Keeping my team with some perspective, they are a mature group and very grounded. They have experience in these situations so I trust they will know how to handle any additional pressure that may be associated with this game.”
Earlier this year, Summerville dominated Sonora in a 7-1 win Jan. 9 at Thorsted Field in Tuolumne. Sonora is undefeated since then, with a 1-1 draw at home versus Calaveras.
“For us it’s about making history,” Josh Bailey, Sonora’s head coach, said Monday. “Sonora has never won the MLL nor have they been this close. These young men got together as a group before the season and decided they wanted to hang a championship banner at their school.”
It’s also about redemption for the Wildcats, Bailey said, referring to the 7-1 defeat to Summerville in early January. Bailey says the Wildcats are a different team now and they’ve fought hard to get where they are.
“We know we are the underdogs and we thrive on that,” Bailey said. On another note, most of the boys from both teams have grown up playing soccer together in the county and it’s great to see our two schools fighting it out. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Reel says he and his Summerville team are looking forward to playing meaningful soccer before the playoffs begin.
“Our approach to this game is not going to change,” Rell said. “We are who we are. We will see how it plays out Tuesday. It will be a fun night of soccer, I know that.”
Sonora, Summerville and Calaveras will all make the playoffs, regardless of what happens Tuesday on the final day of league play. Varsity boys soccer playoffs begin Feb. 17 in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.
In varsity girls soccer, the Sonora Wildcats won the 2019-2020 Mother Lode League varsity girls soccer title last Thursday with a 4-1 win over Bret Harte at Dunlavy Field. Varsity girls soccer playoffs start Feb. 18. Summerville and Amador are the most likely teams to join Sonora in the postseason.
For both boys and girls soccer programs, CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs brackets are expected to be released at 4 p.m. Friday.
In varsity girls basketball, the Argonaut Mustangs are first in the Mother Lode League at 7-1, Calaveras are second at 6-2, and Sonora is third at 5-3. Behind them are Bret Harte 4-4, Summerville at 2-6, and Amador at 0-8.
Each team has two games scheduled this week, Tuesday night and Friday night, so a lot can still happen to determine the league champion, and to decide which teams make the playoffs.
Starting at the top, Argonaut’s in charge and they control their own destiny. If they win both their road games this week at Bret Harte and Amador they are undisputed Mother Lode League champions. They can lose both their games and still make the playoffs, which start Feb. 17.
Calaveras, in second place as of Monday afternoon, can catch and overhaul Argonaut, but they have to hope Bret Harte and Amador beat the Mustangs this week. Sonora’s chances in third place are slimmer, and they need a lot of help to win just a share of the league title. The Wildcats also need to win at Amador and at home against Summerville to stay ahead of Bret Harte and make the playoffs.
In varsity boys basketball, Sonora won their third consecutive Mother Lode League title last Friday by defeating Bret Harte 71-35 in Angels Camp. Amador and Calaveras have the inside track on remaining playoff spots to join Sonora in postseason play, which begins Feb. 18.
For girls and boys basketball, playoffs brackets are expected to be released at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Sonora Wildcats varsity boys are defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champions.
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter @GuyMcCarthy.