It was a runner-up finish for the Santa Maria boys soccer team as they fell to Central (Fresno) 1-0 in the CIF Central Section Division 1 championship Friday night at Santa Maria High School.
After a scoreless first half, Central was able to break through for the game's lone goal in the second half. Eliab Bettancourt corralled Noah Guillen's free kick in the box and found the back of the net.
While the Saints marched up an down the field trying to put pressure on the defense, Grizzlies junior goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez never budged.
The win for Central clinched the program's second straight CIF title.
While the ending didn't go the way Santa Maria had hoped, head coach Eduardo Cuna says he's proud of his squad's effort.
"This is Division 1, and it's competitive. Again, this is our first time making it here. Hopefully, next time around, we'll be more prepared," Cuna said.
But all is not lost as Cuna and the Saints will now prepare for next week's CIF State playoffs.
"I just have to keep telling these guys, you have to keep that mentality. Hopefully we can make a bounce off of this, and they'll come back in a couple of days stronger," Cuna added. "It's just working with their mentality at this point."
A date and time for the Saints' first round match is still to be determined.