The Farmersville boys soccer team was coming off a 4-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the Central Section Division VI playoffs and coach Michael Jordan was not entirely happy.
The top-seeded Aztecs looked like the top team in Tulare County after taking a 3-0 lead in the first half against No. 8 Firebaugh, but the second half left much to be desired.
"When we were up 3-0 at the half, I think they started to look ahead to Tuesday," Jordan said. "That's a mistake. I have to do a better job as a coach so they don't do silly stuff."
The Aztecs have had second-half letdowns in the past after taking a first-half lead, and that's something they hope gets remedied as they eye a Central Section crown.
"Part of it is a mental aspect and part of it is an immaturity thing," Jordan said. "We have 13 seniors, but don't have any captains. I haven't had two captains the whole year like we typically do. We've been alternating because I've been waiting for somebody to rise above and be a leader. I can't find someone to do that on a consistent basis. If it starts now and finishes throughout the year, I'd be happy with that."
There is a lot of talent on the Farmersville team. One of those talented players is senior Freddy Vazquez, who scored one goal and had two assists in Friday's quarterfinal.
He may be one of the players Jordan needs to step up as a leader. Following the victory, Vazquez addressed one of the team's problems.
"We got confident in the second half," Vazquez said. "We were up and we got confident with ourselves. That needs to change."
For a team that improved to 20-4-3 on the season and dominated their first playoff game, one might expect a more upbeat attitude. But the Aztecs aren't just happy with making it to the Division VI semifinals, they have higher expectations.
"I am a tough critic and my boys tell me the same thing," Jordan said. "I have expectations of perfection. I don't anticipate achieving it, but I don't believe in setting your goals low. I want the highest goals possible and we strive for it. My guys know that's the way it is going to be."
The Aztecs know what is at stake. They're playing for the program's fourth Valley title. The next step is a semifinal game against No. 5 Bakersfield Christian at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"We have to keep our eye on the prize," Vazquez said. "We're playing harder teams and we're playing for something that matters. We have to keep that in our mind because we have a good opportunity."
Vazquez got the Aztecs rolling with a goal in the 15th minute.
In the 27th minute, it was Andres Cisneros getting behind the Firebaugh defense and blasting a shot into the back of the net.
Pedro Berber scored in the 37th minute to give the Aztecs a 3-0 lead going into halftime.
And Berber put the finishing touches on the win with a goal in the 68th minute. Berber was actually getting pulled down by the jersey as he chipped the ball into the back of the net.
"You just have to keep fighting until the end," Berber said. "I kept fighting for the ball and got the goal."
The Aztecs showed flashes of why they were the top-ranked team in Tulare County to end the regular season. The trick for them will be to play that way for 80 minutes.
"We can't lose our heads and we have to control the game," Berber said. "We have to play like we know how."
Golden West 1, Reedley 0: The third-seeded Trailblazers knocked off the sixth-seeded Pirates in overtime at Golden West High School.
Christian Ybarra had the match's only goal in the 88th minute. Tanner Cook had six saves for Golden West (19-3-1). The Trailblazers will face No. 2 Monache on Tuesday in Porterville.
Orosi 3, Liberty-Madera Ranchos 1: The top-seeded Cardinals survived a scare from the No. 8 Hawks with an overtime win in Orosi.
Jesse Camarena and Danny Torres scored in overtime for Orosi (18-1-5). Jose Torres scored the Cardinals' goal in regulation.
Orosi will host a semifinal match on Tuesday.
Chavez 2, Central Valley Christian 1: The No. 3 Titans scored in the 88th minute to defeat the No. 6 Cavaliers in the Central Section Division V quarterfinals.
Brent Camper scored the only goal for CVC (12-11-1, 4-5-1) by heading a corner kick taken by Kyle Vissolini in the 34th minute to tie the game a 1-1.
No. 4 Firebaugh 2, No. 5 Farmersville 1: The Aztecs saw their season come to an end against the Eagles in the Central Section Division VI quarterfinals.
"It was a rough season," Farmersville coach Shane Topolinski said. "We started slow because we have a lot of young girls. Half of the team is either a freshman or a sophomore and we are losing only one starter. It was a season of learning and they've come together as a team. They learned from their mistakes and we're looking to correct those next season.
Lizette Perez scored the Aztecs' lone goal.