Lions king of the Mid-Valley area?
The visitor's bus had long pulled away, making that familiar left turn on Spruce Street to reach Highway 99 South and cruise back to Live Oak. The sun had set, the spectators had cleared and still, the lecture continued.
A roster-full of players sat on wooden benches for 35 minutes in the Gridley locker room and listened as the coaches broke down every facet of the Bulldogs 4-1 defeat to the Lions boys soccer team.
There were the 17 Live Oak shots, the eight-to-one corner kick discrepancy and constant pressure that had Gridley goalie Jose Beltran screaming "out, out, out" with regularity, all of which led to this rivalry defeat.
In a rematch of a Northern Section quarterfinal playoff game, the Lions once again came up winners. Team captain Hector Cibrian buried a pair of goals and Armando Araujo and Edgar Diaz both added scores as Live Oak took care of its backyard competitor with little drama.
"We're kind of starting to put the pieces together," said Live Oak coach Mike Owen.
Now the question is, will Act 2 be the same? These two teams face off again on Saturday in the Central Valley Shootout in Redding — hence the long postgame talk for the Bulldogs. With a 0-2 start, a game against Corning on Thursday and another shot at Live Oak on Wednesday, a comprehensive dissection of what's broken was necessary, their coach said.
"Oh yeah, it's one of those things after a game like that," Jesse Barajas said. "When you will see them again in three days, you have to shake that off and correct those mistakes."
Where Gridley did have an impressive moment was in the 10th minute of the first half. The Bulldogs, though young at many positions, have a strong pair in seniors Cali Garcia and Javier Marquez. Garcia sent a cross from the far right side of the field and Marquez headed in a pin-point shot.
It tied the game after Cibrian made it 1-0 early on after intercepting a goal kick and sending it back through the net. The score, which came 6 minutes and 38 seconds into the game, was a quick welcome back present for the senior striker. He missed the first two games of the season to play with his travel team in San Diego.
In his first game of 2010, he showed nothing much has changed from a junior year where he tallied 25 goals and 12 assists in 20 games.
"It's nice to be back," he said. "I didn't want to miss this game."