SOCCER: Rams face Modesto in first round of playoffs

The Gavilan soccer team will open the first round of the NorCal state regional playoffs as the No. 10 seed by playing at 2 p.m. Saturday at No. 7 Modesto Junior College.

The winner faces San Francisco, who earned a first-round bye.

The Rams, riding a six-game undefeated streak (5-0-1), had a 7-3-4 record in Coast Conference play. Gavilan coach Justin Johnson hasn’t seen Modesto play but is optimistic if the Rams play like they are capable of playing, he said.

“We just have to play our game,” Johnson said. “If we do that, we will be successful.”

The Pirates finished with a record of 11-4-5 and in second place in the Big 8 Conference. The team has made the playoffs each of the last four years under coach Joe Michelena. He admitted he also didn’t know what to expect from the Rams.

“I know Gavilan is in Gilroy and the coach took over a program that wasn’t very good and turned it around,” Michelena said. “We are happy to be hosting a playoff game. We know that when you get into the playoffs each team is capable of winning. We won’t take them lightly. I am sure it will be a very good soccer game.”

The Rams may be a little confused when they get to Modesto and see a 48-year-old man running on the field with players half his age. But Jeff Michelena, the coach’s brother, is a true freshman at the school and has earned the respect of teammates while manning the midfield.

The California Community College Athletic Association announced the playoff seeding Tuesday morning. It had to postpone the decision after several teams had to forfeit games because of violating Title IX requirements, Johnson said. Under Title IX, both men and women’s sports programs must be equally represented.

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