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Northern Section soccer kicks off
Live Oak boys back in form, blank Wheatland 2-0 on the road
In his first soccer match of the year, Live Oak High junior Armando Araujo has already checked a few things off his bucket list.
Scoring on a penalty kick, a highlight-reel header into the goal and, to top it off, coach Mike Owen named him captain — the only junior to hold the title this season.
Araujo scored twice, carrying the Lions to a 2-0 season-opening victory over the Wheatland Pirates in Wheatland on Tuesday.
Both team's defenses held strong through the beginning of the first half, but Araujo managed to draw a foul in front of Wheatland's goal with a shot to put his team ahead on a penalty kick.
"I was very nervous," Araujo said. "I knew I had to get through it though because I'm a captain. It was our first game of the season so I know we can do better."
He may have never faced that type of situation before, but he delivered the shot to the back of the net past the diving keeper, giving Live Oak a 1-0 lead.
Araujo had a little help on his other score in the second half from sophomore Pedro Valencia, who delivered a perfect corner kick to the front of the net.
Valencia put great loft under the ball so Araujo could jump up and send it to the goal with a header — a first in his prep career.
"I was really surprised because I've never had a shot like that," Araujo said. "I knew it was coming because I told Pedro to send it to the first post and he was able to do it."
The Lions outshot Wheatland 14-7, but the Pirates had plenty of opportunities to score in the second half. Several shot attempts from Wheatland sailed out of bounds, despite finding holes in the Lions' offense.
"It's nice to start (the season) in the right direction, but it could have gone either way," Owen said. "Wheatland did a good job attacking and they were just unlucky to not find the back of the net today. We have work to do. We'll take what we can get right now."
Tuesday kicked off Owen's seventh season as the head man for the Lions and he has put together an impressive resume.
Since taking the reigns in 2004-05, his teams have made the postseason every year, culminating in a Northern Section Division II title in 2007-08 — also, the last year Wheatland made the playoffs.
The Lions continue their tour of the Butte View League with their home opener against Sutter today and the annual matchup with section-title contender Gridley next week.
In a four-month long season, it's hard to take much away from a game in November, but nonconference games may provide an early look at potential playoff matchups.
Case in point — Live Oak lost in the section championship last season to BVL's Orland.
"(Nonconference games) give us a feel for the game and get us to start to gel with each other," Owen said. "We get to see our strengths and weaknesses."
The Live Oak girls also opened the season with a road victory in Wheatland.
Alma Gutierrez scored on a corner kick to give the Lions the initial lead.
Live Oak's Monica Curiel added a free-kick goal to top the scoring.
No information from Wheatland was reported.