TRACY - Throughout its unlikely tear through this season’s playoffs, the West High boys soccer team has carried a certain mantra, as if the Wolfpack continuously refused to accept the hand they were dealt.

 

West-Miramonte PKshttps://t.co/ScdKfy9opI

— Nick Woodard (@nwoodard25)March 7, 2018

TRACY - Throughout its unlikely tear through this season’s playoffs, the West High boys soccer team has carried a certain mantra, as if the Wolfpack continuously refused to accept the hand they were dealt.

They put their cards on the table again Tuesday night. This time, though, the dealer won out.

No. 4 West forced No. 5 Miramonte into 10 rounds of penalty kicks, but Miramonte found the net last to win the opening round 2-1 of the CIF Northern California Regional Boys Soccer Championships.

West had began the playoffs as the 16th seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs, only to beat top-ranked Granite Bay on the opening round. The Wolfpack went on to knock off No. 8 River City in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Lincoln in the semifinals before losing to No. 6 Bella Vista in overtime of the D-II championship.

For some time, the Wolfpack had their home stands at Steve Lopez field convinced they were about to pull a little more playoff magic Tuesday. Miramonte pushed across a goal mere minutes into the match, but the two teams settled into a stalemate for the rest of regulation.

Most of it, anyway.

With less than a minute to play, Miramonte made one of its lone errors in the game. A hard foul gave West a penalty kick, and Brian Hernandez tied the game for the Wolfpack.

It was a sequence that couldn’t have been scripted if they tried. But it wouldn’t have happened without goalkeeper Saul Salgado, who rebounded from giving up an early goal to keep West in the game.

“He’s been remarkable right from the beginning (of the season),” said West head coach Jesus Reyes. “He has done a special job, and he’s been valuable to this team.”

The sophomore blanked Miramonte for the entirety of the 15-minute overtime period, forcing penalty kicks. The first five from the Wolfpack found the back of the night. So did the corresponding Miramonte players.

It continued for four more rounds until the 10th, when the Matadors keeper made a clutch save. His teammate scored seconds later, ending West’s season.

After the game, Reyes said he had no complaints about the way this group played, and rightfully so. This was a team, after all, seeded 16th in the section playoffs. Instead, the Wolfpack found themselves a PK round away from winning a regional playoff game.

“It really made us believe that we’re capable of competing with any team,” Reyes said. “They were fun kids. They were open and willing to learn, and they had heart and determination.”

This kind of run, Reyes said, made the stakes that much higher for the next group to come through the program.

“It’s going to set the table for the next group of guys coming in,” Reyes said. “I know they’re capable of doing it now. They’ll have some big shoes to fill.”

 Contact reporter Nick Woodard at (209) 546-8272 or nwoodard@recordnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @nwoodard25.