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Competition remains strong in Buffalo Cup

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POSTED March 7, 2014 12:37 a.m.

Scheduling conflicts and other factors forced Manteca High girls soccer coach Justin Coenenberg to shrink the Buffalo Cup tournament field back down to eight.

Last year’s event was expanded to a four-pool format with 12 total teams. University of San Francisco edged the tournament host 2-1 in the championship match.

With the 2014 Sac-Joaquin Section spring season starting about a week later than usual. Coenenberg adjusted accordingly. He prefers not to hold the tournament at the very start of the season or too close to Valley Oak League play. The change in schedule means University will not return for a third consecutive appearance.

The sixth annual Buffalo Cup kicks off today.

“University wanted to come back but couldn’t because of the scheduling change,” Coenenberg said. “With some teams dropping I had to turn others away.”

Back to its original eight-team bracket format, the Buffalo Cup still promises to be highly competitive. Manteca, the 2010 and 11 Cup champions, is usually in the mix. The Buffaloes failed to make the SJS playoffs last year out of the grueling VOL, as they were beaten out by Oakdale for the third spot. Oakdale (0-2-1) returns for a second run in the Buff Cup and opens with Franklin (0-0-1) in the first game at 1:30 p.m.

Oakdale is one four teams in the Cup that qualified for the 2013 postseason. Colfax (3-0-1) and Atwater (0-1) are two others, and they square off at 3 p.m. in what is expected the best first-round matchup. Colfax claimed the Buff Cup title in 2012 and settled for the consolation crown last year en route to earning a share of the Pioneer Valley League championship. Atwater advanced to the SJS Division II playoffs as the third-place squad out of the Central California Conference.

Foothill (4-2) of Sacramento joins PVL rival in the tourney and takes on Bret Harte (0-8-6 last year) at 4:30.

Manteca opens with Riverbank (1-2), which already has one more win than its 0-17-1 campaign of a year ago.

The second- and final-round matches take place Saturday at the stadium and practice field. The championship and consolation title games are scheduled to start at 1:30.

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