And it paid off, as the Wolverines scored three second-half goals to avert disaster and down the Falcons 3-1.
"We knew we needed a win, and get it together to get the win, so we just got everybody riled up and did what we had to do," said Deer Valley's 4 Danny Garces.
Once the Wolverines got riled up, it didn't take them long to start putting goals on the board. After missing a wide-open shot early in the game, Chris Martinez redeemed himself in the 41st minute, scoring on a nice assist from Jose Chaires to tie the game at a goal apiece.
Martinez was on the giving end 16 minutes later, making a nice pass to Ryan Singh, who got the ball in the front of the net and blasted it past Freedom goalkeeper Jorge Lopez to give Deer Valley its first lead.
"Deer Valley had a couple of chances and they were able to put the ball in the goal," said Freedom head coach Martin Contreras. "That was pretty much the difference in the game. Other than that, it was a pretty evenly played game."
Freedom did a good job in the first half, using the wind to its advantage and taking the lead on an unassisted goal by Carlos Gonzalez in the 12th minute. Freedom was able to take the lead into the half by dominating possession and keeping the ball away from Deer Valley.
Anthony Salazar set up Deer Valley's final score with a beautiful assist, hitting Max Andrade in stride to set up the game's final score in the 72nd minute.
"We have a lot of people sick and injured right now," said Deer Valley head coach Nicholas Howliston. "I thought the team came together tonight and played well."
Freedom had two late opportunities to tie the game in front of the Wolverine goal, but was turned away by goalkeeper Joe Gonzalez, who finished with six saves. "The second half we had a couple of good chances, but unfortunately we were not able to put them in," said Contreras.
The win kept Deer Valley (14-5-2, 11-2-2 BVAL) in second place behind league leaders De La Salle and Pittsburg. The Wolverines faced a tough challenge in the final week of the regular season. After facing Pittsburg on Tuesday, the Wolverines clashed with De La Salle Thursday, Feb. 7, after the Press went to print.
While the Wolverines are mathematically locked into third place in the BVAL, their match-ups with Pittsburg on Tuesday and De La Salle Thursday could have a bearing on what seed they receive in the North Coast Section Playoffs, to be announced this weekend. A win against both Pittsburg and De La Salle could give Deer Valley an automatic first-round bye, according to Howliston.
Meanwhile, the Falcons (1-14-3, 1-11-2 BVAL) finished their season - which has been largely disappointing - on Thursday at Pittsburg. Freedom has failed to execute in the clutch on numerous occasions and been unable to sway momentum in its favor all year. That trend continued against Deer Valley.
Although Freedom will lose six seniors to graduation after the season concludes, it will return a good core of young talent to tackle the opposition next season.