GALT — Alexis Gonzalez was due for a break out game.
His Galt High boys soccer teammates are glad that the senior midfielder delivered at the right time on Tuesday. Hosting Natomas in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff semifinal game at Walker Park, Gonzalez and top-seed Galt displayed an offensive showcase in the last 40 minutes of the contest. That led to the Warriors posting a 6-2 win over No. 5 Natomas.
The win sends Galt (21-1-1), the defending D-IV champions, back to the title game against No. 2 Livingston (23-2-2), which beat Liberty Ranch 2-0 in the other semifinal game at the Wolf Pack’s field on Tuesday afternoon. Last year, Galt beat Livingston 3-2 for the blue banner at Elk Grove High.
According to Will DeBoard, the section’s assistant commissioner, the finalists in boys D-IV have automatically earned CIF NorCal playoff berths. The section winners would host at least a first-round home game and runner-ups would travel, at least in the first round.
Gonzalez battled Natomas’ Miguel Lopez for possession of the soccer ball in the 36th minute of Tuesday’s contest. Moving the ball to the left side of Lopez, Gonzalez, 10 yards away from the Nighthawks’ net, powered the ball past Lopez and into the center of the to tie the game at 1-1.
“I felt that the momentum went up,” Gonzalez said. “That made us stronger and more hungry, and wanted to score more goals. Before the game started, we were like ‘this isn’t our last game, we’re going to the championship game.’”
In only the first minute into the second half, Gonzalez gave the Warriors a 2-1 lead on a penalty kick. Gonzalez took the shot for teammate in midfielder Ramiro Ramirez, who was fouled near the top of the box on the south end of the field. Gonzalez drilled the shot into the back of the net past Natomas goalie Sebastian Gutierrez.
“I was just trying to place it on goal,” Gonzalez said. “Most of the time, I would kick them over. So I would just keep it low and on target.”
Three minutes later, Galt midfielder Gilberto Lopez increased his team’s lead to 3-1 on an uncontested shot inside the box.
But Natomas (18-4-1) picked up a glimpse of light at the 49th minute. That’s when Christo Cervantes cut the Warriors’ lead to 3-2 on a penalty kick.
After Galt forward Davian Marquez and Ramirez had back-to-back shots on goal at the 55th and 56th minutes respectively, the soccer ball fell in favor of Galt. One minute after Ramirez’s miss attempt, Marquez, playing inside the box, which led to Gutierrez out of the box. That was the moment Marquez booted his shot from the right side of the box, across the net into the opposite corner for the goal and a Galt 4-2 lead.
“Once we get things to click, then we’re going,” said Galt co-head coach Dane White. “We’re really happy with the way Alexis worked tonight. He has been frustrated with his performance the last few games. I think he felt this fire to prove his worth to his teammates.”
Gilberto Lopez used his head for his second goal of the game at the 62nd minute. Gonzalez, moving the ball past the Warrior bench, sent the line-drive shot to Lopez, who quickly turned and used a head shot that went into the left side of the net to make it a 5-2 game.
The Warriors’ final goal came with nine minutes left in the game. Forward Juan Cruz saw Gutierrez out of the box in what appeared to be thinking the ball would roll out of bounds. But Cruz took advantage of the opportunity to score, kicking the ball into the left corner of the net.
Natomas’ first goal came in the 14th minute when Angel Perez took a cross pass and finished the play with a chip shot into the left corner of the net.
Galt finished with 16 shots on goal; Gilberto Lopez and Gonzalez had three each . Natomas had eight chances.
Now the Warriors will shift their attention toward Livingston, which won the Trans-Valley League title. Livingston outscored its league opponents 71-6 in 11 games.
“We have different styles of play,” said White of Livingston. “It should be really good soccer.”
Gonzalez added, “I feel like it’s going to be a great opportunity. We’ll see how it goes.”
Contact Mike Bush at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.