Defending CIF champion Cate leads four local boys soccer teams into the CIF playoffs.
The Rams (14-1-1) open the Division 7 playoffs at home on Thursday against Newbury Park Adventist.
In Division 1, San Marcos and Santa Barbara both travel for their first-round matches on Thursday. The Royals (9-5-6, Channel League runner-up) play at Sunset League runner-up Los Alamitos while the Dons (15-6-4, Channel League No. 3) visit Marmonte League champion Royal (13-5-5) in Simi Valley. Santa Barbara reached last year’s Division 1 final and fell to San Clemente. San Marcos is making its playoff appearance since the 2008-09 season.
Carpinteria (15-6-1), which repeated as the Tri-Valley League champion, is home for a Division 5 first-round match Thursday against the winner of a wild-card game between Arroyo and Arroyo Grande. The Warriors were Division 5 runners-up last year.
Playoff matches are scheduled at 3:15 p.m.
From the North County, Santa Ynez, the Los Padres League co-champ, got a home game Thursday against Woodbridge and Cabrillo (LPL No. 3) travels to West Ranch on Thursday in Division 3. Also, in a Tuesday wild-card match, Lompoc (LPL No. 4) is at Littlerock. In Division 5, PAC-7 runner-up Pioneer Valley hosts Oaks Christian on Thursday.
With their potent attack led by UCSB commit Ema Boateng, the top-seeded Rams are battle tested, having beaten Division 1 schools JSerra of Orange County and San Marcos and Division 5 neighbor Carpinteria, all of which made the playoffs.
One of the big obstacles facing teams in Division 7 is the length of travel. Looking ahead in Cate’s part of the bracket, there’s the possibility of a trip to Mammoth Lakes for a semifinal game. The Rams beat Mammoth in last year’s final in Downey.