Rigoberto Maldonado scored the winning goal in the 29th minute and the Pioneer Valley's boys soccer team nipped Righetti 2-1 in a regular season finale at Righetti's Warrior Stadium Thursday night.

However, something far more significant (for Righetti in particular) happened during the day, and that development was nowhere near any soccer pitch.

Thanks to that development, the Warriors are in the playoffs for the first time in fourth-year coach Rob Golden's time at the helm. 

First-place San Luis Obispo forfeited 10 PAC 8 League wins after it was revealed that four of its players violated CIF Southern Section Bylaw 600 by participating in an 11-on-11 men's league.

The rule prohibits players from participating in an outside league during the high school season of that particular sport, except in instances such as playing in a three-on-three basketball league or a five-on-five soccer league.

Thus, instead of carrying an 11-2-0 league record into its Thursday night game at St. Joseph, the Tigers' league ledger turned to 1-12-0.

That vaulted second-place Arroyo Grande to the league championship, Paso Robles into second and Pioneer Valley (10-3-1 in the PAC 8 with the two forfeit wins), into third.

Even without the forfeit wins, Pioneer Valley would have earned an automatic playoff bid by beating Righetti. The two forfeit wins did likely relieve some of the Panthers' collective pre-game anxiety, though.

The Panthers would have been in the playoffs regardless, thanks to edging the Warriors Thursday night. Paso Robles can do no worse than third place. Righetti (8-6-0) moved from fifth place to fourth, and the final guaranteed league playoff spot.

Thus, what would have been a devastating loss to its crosstown rival on Righetti's Senior Night wasn't all that devastating.

The Warriors had to potentially forfeit two league wins themselves. "Unfortunately, one of our young men played in a Sunday League," said Righetti athletic director Kevin Barbarick.

"We self-reported (the violation)."

However, "One of those games (affected by the ineligible player) was a loss to San Luis Obispo," said Barbarick. "The other was a win against Mission Prep."

Thus, with one forfeit win and one forfeit loss, "Our (league) record stays the same," said Barbarick.

All the scoring between the Panthers and the Warriors Thursday night came in the first half. The Righetti goalkeeper knocked down a shot in the 16th minute but couldn't corral it and Sebastian Melchor knocked in the rebound shot.

After the Maldonado goal, the Warriors tallied in the first minute of first-half injury time, which lasted three minutes. Bryan Rivera connected with Myles Baro on a left-to-right pass in the Pioneer Valley penalty box, and Baro drilled the shot home.

After the Panthers pushed the attack for most of the first half, the Warriors pushed the attack most of the second.

"We just couldn't put the ball in the goal," said Golden. "It wasn't for lack of trying."

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The Warriors came close twice, but Pioneer Valley goalkeeper Jorge Mendez foiled both bids. Meanwhile, Righetti defender Aaron Lee stopped several Pioneer Valley thrusts after halftime.

"We could have killed the ball more in the first half," said Pioneer Valley coach Alan Brafman. "We could have scored more goals. We gave up possession too much when we didn't have to.

"But we have a young team. They're not experienced at finishing shots."

Meanwhile, Golden praised his squad, which beat the Panthers for the first time during Golden's stint as Righetti coach when the Warriors scored a 3-1 win at Pioneer Valley last month.

"We used to hardly get a goal against Pioneer Valley," said Golden. "Now when we go against them we think we can win.

"I love playing Pioneer Valley. They're well-disciplined, they're well-conditioned, as our guys are. And they're well-coached."

The soccer playoff draws will come out Sunday. The Panthers suffered a blow when defender-midfielder David Mora was injured in the second half Thursday night and could not return to action.

"I don't think he'll be able to play in the post-season," said Brafman. "That could hurt us."