GALT — Isaac Sandoval set the tone early for the Liberty Ranch High boys soccer team in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff home game on Tuesday.
Then Hawk teammate Alexis Gamez caught fire. That led to No. 3 Liberty Ranch a 5-0 win over No. 14 Placer at Hawk Stadium. This was the first-ever boys soccer playoff win at the on-campus stadium for Liberty Ranch, Galt’s second high school.
Next for Liberty Ranch is No. 6 Foothill, a 3-1 winner over No. 11 West Campus, in the quarterfinal game. Foothill and West Campus are in Sacramento. The quarterfinal game, which will also be played at Hawk Stadium, is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m.
In the opening minutes of the first half, Liberty Ranch (21-2) had almost a half-dozen shots on goal; midfielder Mason Ginni, Sandoval and Gamez had those chances.
“I knew that it would come,” said Liberty Ranch coach Andrew Fisher. “Sometimes we just have to settle down a little bit. We had a lot of opportunities.”
In the 19th minute, Sandoval gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead. Coming off a missed shot by a Hawk teammate, Sandoval, a striker, slid the ball into the right corner of the goal.
Gamez, one of the Hawks’ three captains with Ginni and goalie Eduardo Landin, increased the team’s lead to 3-0 by the 37th minute. His first goal came at the 32nd minute when he received a crossfield pass and booted the soccer ball into the right corner of the net. Gamez’s second goal, at the 37th minute, was courtesy of Ginni through an assist. As the Placer goalie moved to the right side of the net, Gamez hit a solid grounder the opposite direction for the goal.
“His play tonight is a continuation of his play this entire year,” said Fisher of Gamez. “He has taken his game to a completely different level. There’s been a noticeable improvement in his play.”
Ginni increased the Hawks’ lead to 4-0 over Placer (5-7-5) at the 48th minute of the contest. After Gamez and Sandoval scrambled for shots on goal inside the Hillmen’s box, Ginni found the soccer ball in front and fired it into the middle of the net.
Then 21 minutes later, Liberty Ranch finalized the score at 5-0 when forward Tomas Avila, on a crossfield pass from Minni, paused and booted the soccer ball into the left corner of the net on the south end of the stadium.
Ginni had eight shots on goal for Liberty Ranch, which had 23 total in the game.
“If we had that many opportunities, especially early, I figured we’d get one,” said Fisher of the Hawks’ goals going into the net.
Gamez had four and Avila three. Sandoval and Cristian Martinez each had two and Blake Mackey, Damion Ochoa and Joey Mejia had one each. Landin only had four saves, all in the second half.
Contact Mike Bush at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.