Top-seeded Denair boys soccer team begins defense of Section championship Tuesday at home

The Denair boys soccer team will have a chance to defend its Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship. 

The Coyotes – featuring one of the nation’s top scorers in Angel Sanchez and having won nine of their last 12 matches – were seeded first when the playoff pairings were released Friday. Denair (13-10-4) will host Millennium (13-5-4) of Tracy on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

“The way the boys are working right now, we’re looking forward to playing again,” said first-year coach Antonio Padilla, who gave his team the weekend off and plans just a light practice Monday. “It’s been a long season and we could have three games next week. It’s very important for the players to have time to rest and recover.”

After a disappointing start to the season – including four losses from forfeits because they used an ineligible player – the Coyotes appear to be peaking at the right time, despite dealing with some nagging injuries and illnesses. Denair finished third in the Southern League behind Orestimba (16-7-1) and Delhi (19-2-5), both of which are in the Division V playoffs with Delhi seeded No. 1. 

Denair is 9-2-1 in its past 12 matches, including 0-0 and 3- 3 ties with Delhi and a 1-0 loss to Gustine, which also made the Division VI bracket.

“The boys have still given 100 percent, but some games we weren’t totally healthy, like the loss to Gustine,” Padilla said.

Leading the way all season has been Sanchez, a senior forward who has been virtually unstoppable. He has 41 goals and 13 assists for 95 points, ranking him fifth nationally in goals and seventh in points. Only  

Giovanni Perez (41 goals, 15 assists) of East Union in Manteca has more points than Sanchez in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Is there a secret to Sanchez’s success?

“Mainly, he works so hard,” Padilla said. “My message to the boys was to give 200% or the person behind you will get the chance. Angel got that message quick. He creates a lot of opportunities for himself. And we have players who can pass it to him.”

A victory Tuesday would earn the Coyotes another home game on Thursday against the winner of the match between No. 4 Rio Vista (11-3-3) and No. 5 Colfax (10-5-2).

The other half of the Division VI bracket features No. 2 Esparto (14-5-1) hosting No. 7 Gustine (11-8-3) and No. 3 Summerville (7-5-2) facing No. 6 Ben Holt Academy (13-6-2) in the first round.

The Section championship match will be played Saturday.

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