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Buffaloes back in section final; dust Cosumnes

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Buffaloes back in section final; dust Cosumnes

Manteca sophomore Leah Manuleleua gets after the ball Wednesday. She also scored a goal during the Buffaloes’ 4-1 victory over Cosumnes Oaks.

JOHN-JOEL GRIFFITHS/The Bulletin/


POSTED May 15, 2014 12:33 a.m.

ELK GROVE – Katie Lock and Lejla Pepic tallied a goal and an assist apiece during Manteca’s 4-1 victory over Cosumnes Oaks in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III tournament Wednesday.

The win propelled third-seeded Manteca (18-4-2) into the section championship game for the first time since 2005, when the Buffaloes came up short of capturing a blue banner for a second consecutive year while the team’s now-assistant head coach Kym Gause was playing the net.

“That’s a sore subject,” Gause said jokingly after the victory.

Manteca will have its third shot in the last 10 years to win a banner Saturday.

The Buffaloes were awarded this opportunity after scoring four unanswered goals against the favorited No. 2 seed, Cosumnes Oaks, making its sixth consecutive postseason appearance.

“They deserved to go on,” Cosumnes Oaks head coach Kandy Languemi said. “They wanted it and proved they were the team that needed to go on. Good luck, Manteca.”

The Wolf Pack’s Ariel Klink put the Buffaloes behind 1-0 in the ninth minute after beating Manteca keeper Alyssa Burch (five saves) to the corner.

The Buffaloes’ sophomore Leah Manuleleua tied the game with a header in the 17th minute. The scoring play seemed to ignite her teammates for the remainder of the match.

Manteca took a 2-1 lead 10 minutes before the break when Pepic scored on a breakaway assisted by Lock.

“Obviously we don’t want to go down early, but I (wasn’t) surprised we came back,” Manteca head coach Justin Coenenerg said. “The girls don’t fight out there or bicker or argue – they stay together.”

Manteca stood together and outshot its opposition 12-5, including 6-1 in the second half.

Lock scored on a left-footed shot assisted by Natalia Duran in the 34th minute to make it 3-1 at the intermission. Worth noting: All of Manteca’s first-half goals and assists were tallied by underclassmen, including the final assist in the second-half that was recorded by the sophomore Lock.

Jocelyn Reyes, another one of Manteca’s freshmen, played solid defense against Klink, holding the Wolf Pack’s top producer scoreless for the final 70 minutes.

 “(Lock) did a good job in the field and came up with some really good minutes – just an all-around good effort by the team,” Coenenberg said.

“We knew people were counting us out at the beginning of the season. We wanted to be that dangerous team that would upset people. No one thought we could do this, but we are here in the section finals.”

Manteca graduated eight contributing seniors last year and a run of this magnitude seemed unlikely with only four seniors. One of those seniors is forward Harleen Pabla, who scored her third goal in two postseason games during the second half to make up the final score via Lock’s helper.

Manteca will face Christian Brothers on Saturday at Cosumnes Oaks. Game time is noon

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