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Weston Ranch blows out River Valley in D3 quarterfinal

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Mariano Perez celebrates with Deon Coffey (11) after his header gave Weston Ranch a 3-0 lead late in the first half of the Cougars’ Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff game with visiting River...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED November 6, 2015 1:13 a.m.

STOCKTON — Weston Ranch has the talent to compete, but in its wild come-from-behind victory in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs on Tuesday the Cougars proved to have the grit to overcome seemingly dire situations.

Against a battle-hardened River Valley side Thursday night, they showed off their depth. With three key starters out, top-seeded Weston Ranch seized control from the start and rolled to a resounding 5-1 victory.

Senior captains Kevin Medina and Esteban Paramo were serving red-card suspensions, while defender Alex Gonzalez was shelved by an injury. That had little effect on the Cougars (22-4-2), who will welcome No. 4 Vista del Lago (10-4-3) of Folsom next Wednesday.

“We needed three guys to step up big time for us with three starters out,” said Weston Ranch coach Francisco Cisneros, who promoted frosh-soph players to bolster the varsity roster. “It turned out that all 20 stepped up today. Everybody from the start to the very end kept up the high intensity.”

Joseph Mayorca was the hero of Weston Ranch’s 6-2 overtime win over No. 16 Bethel. He scored four goals, including the equalizer in the final seconds of regulation, and added two more and an assist in Thursday’s victory.

“There are no star players on this team,” Mayorca said. “We have players on this team and everybody works hard, so if someone goes down we can replace them.”

Although Weston Ranch was winning the possession battle early, it was No. 8 River Valley (13-3-2) that had the best chances to take the first lead.

In the sixth minute, Adrian Manriquez received a cross from Yauri DeGroot but drove his open look well over the crossbar. Then in the 12th, Enrique Carvajal was just off the mark on a half-volley attempt.

Mayorca later responded in the 16th minute, beating the a defender to Eduardo Acosta’s long goalie punt before touching it past Falcons keeper Max Morrison.

“It gave us that momentum,” Mayorca said. “We had confidence that we could win the game.”

Mayorca then assisted Bryant Ortiz’s goal with a cross from the left side to double the lead in the 21st minute. Weston Ranch held a commanding 3-0 lead by halftime thanks to Mariano Perez’s well-placed head shot off Jose Espinoza’s back-post cross on a corner kick. The Cougars had five corner-kick chances in the opening half against zero for River Valley.

The Falcons held a 10-3 shot advantage in the second half, but all three of Weston Ranch’s on frame with two of them finding the net. Mayorca scored again in the 64th minute on a breakaway. Espinoza put it out of reach in the 74th with a direct kick. Carvajal registered River Valley’s only goal in the 60th minute. Weston Ranch’s reserves got to play the final 10 minutes of the game.

River Valley has lost only to No. 1-seeded teams this season. In nonleague contests, the Falcons dropped one-goal decisions to Natomas and Rocklin, the top squads in Divisions IV and II, respectively.

“That’s a huge win against a very good team,” Cisneros said. “They were section champs in 2012, and I love the way these guys responded today.”

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