SOCCER: Rams win fifth straight

It seems like an eternity since the Gavilan College men’s soccer team was humbled 4-1 by the state’s top-ranked squad in City College of San Francisco.

Nearly three weeks have past. Head coach Justin Johnson said then, and has repeated it too, his team will take each match one at a time.

Five straight wins have followed – including a 2-1 victory over host Foothill on Tuesday – and the Rams, who on Oct. 16 were 2-3-3 in the Coast Conference, are now 7-3-3 and bearing down on a postseason berth.

“It’s a good situation to be in,” Johnson said after Tuesday’s game. “This is what you play for. It’s why we put all this work in.”

To be eligible for the Northern California Regional Playoffs, the Rams must finish the regular season inside the top-14 teams in a pool of 32 sides. Six division winners earn automatic bids. The rest of the slots are filled according to power points. As of Tuesday night, Gavilan was No. 12, three spots higher than where it was to begin the week.

A multitude of scenarios could carry Gavilan into the playoffs, or , for that matter, keep it out. The priority for the Rams, regardless of how everything else moves around them, is to win Friday.

“It all depends where everyone finishes,” Johnson said. “But for the most part, it is win and in for us. And that’s really the only scenario that we are concerned with. It’s the only thing that we can take responsibility for and have control over.”

With one tilt left – Friday at West Valley – the Rams control their destiny. A road victory over the Vikings will not be easy. West Valley is 11-1-1 in conference this season – a record that includes nine consecutive wins.

“West Valley always has a strong program,” Johnson said. “But I think they proved to themselves today that they can play with anyone.”

Gavilan’s (11-6-3 overall) own hot streak down the stretch has it outscoring opponents 15-4, numbers that reflect Johnson’s main objective for his team, which is to execute an entire 90 minutes game in and game out.

“I think this team is a very good team, which wasn’t the question,” Johnson said. “It came down to us having our backs against the wall, which motivated these guys to be much more consistent. After that loss (to CCSF) it was kind of a slap in the face. They knew it was time, and that’s the attitude they have taken on.”

Friday’s game is in Saratoga and slated for a 3 p.m. start.

“It’s a must-win game for us. That’s the way we are taking it,” Johnson added. “We are not taking our foot off the pedal. We are going to keep pushing and see how far we can ride this wave.”

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