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Curry’s late rally sparks Manteca win

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Lancer Kianna Lamont makes her way up the field during the Lancers' 2-0 loss to Manteca Thursday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 9, 2010 2:05 a.m.
Finishing the contest the way they started it would probably not have been good enough for the Manteca Buffaloes, but Airenne Curry made sure that wouldn’t be the case when her header found the back of the net, putting Manteca up for good in a 2-0 Valley Oak League win Thursday.

Curry chased down a long free kick, timing a play on the huge bounce and gliding over East Union keeper Taylor Maruca and bouncing a header into the bottom right corner of the goal. The score in the game’s 63rd minute, sparked a determined Manteca squad, and proved to seal the fate of the previously undefeated Lancers.

“We kept going back and forth and I knew we would eventually get a through ball,” Curry said after the win. “We finally got one and Riley (Mankin) was standing right next to me, she missed a header and then I was able to put it in with my head.

“It was a big goal for us.”

Manteca (7-1 VOL, 13-3-1 overall) refused to relax on the one goal lead, picking up the intensity and keeping East Union on the defensive. After closing the first-half in a deadlocked 0-0 tie, Curry’s goal clearly changed everything about how both teams approached the final 20-plus minutes.

“Airenne’s an unbelievable player,” Manteca head coach Justin Coenenberg said. “She’s still not all the way there, she can go in spurts and then we have to get her out, but she is just so dangerous.
“If you give her an inch, she’ll take a mile.”

Curry was far from through after nailing the game-winning goal, collecting another breakaway with nine minutes to play and finding a streaking Sammie Morris along the left sideline who had only one purpose in mind.

Morris made good on her shot, going top-shelf for a 2-0 Manteca lead and the first victory of arguably the league’s most important matchup.

“We just didn’t thread together a possession ball,” Lancer head coach Jim Todd said. “We looked really good in the final five minutes, when we really needed something up top. I never felt like we broke through.

“It was like we were in a funk all night.”

East Union opened the contest with the same physical, up-tempo style that has carried the squad atop the VOL standings. The transition came in the second half when Manteca’s physical play intensified; opening the long-range scoring opportunities for Manteca’s blistering fast forwards.

“We had some moments, and we lost some opportunities,” Todd said. “They were able to come up with a couple of breakaways and took them all the way to the goal.

“They were fast and their breakaway’s were half and three-quarters of the field, you can’t stop that.”

When East Union was able to have its customary success in the open field, Manteca keeper Jimi Guibor did her best to nullify the Lancers’ playmaking ability. Guibor posted six saves, but was the vital ingredient in captaining a stingy Buffaloe defense.

“I knew I would have to play a key part,” Guibor said. “I’ve played with a lot of their girls and so I knew how they played. Certain girls were going to take certain shots, so I just tried to tell my defense if a certain girl would have a big cross we’d have to watch out for her.

“We were just basically trying to stay mark-tight.”

The Buffaloes will try and ride this momentum building win into the opening of  the second installment of the VOL season. Manteca will only have to reflect back to the final minutes of this victory to realize how great its potential is.

“You could tell we all just got so pumped up,” Guibor said of the squad after Curry’s initial score. “It was so big for our momentum, everyone was screaming ‘Come on guys we have to win this’.

“We have to stay in this race; we want to do great because this is our season.”

Sierra 2, Weston Ranch 1
The Timberwolves found themselves interlocked in a scoreless tie at the half with the struggling Weston Ranch Cougars, but a strong second half was enough to keep Sierra in the mix for the league’s top-spot.

Sierra (6-0-2, 10-4-2) got late goals from Mariela Pimentel and Stephanie Vanni to usher past the Cougars and remain undefeated in the VOL campaign.

“In the first half we actually had more opportunities to score on some breakaways, but we weren’t able to finish,” Sierra head coach Manuel Pires said. “The second-half we were able to make a couple of nice plays.”

The Cougars netted a shot late after a free kick when Marisa Bradshaw found the back of the net.

Sierra will open the second half of the VOL schedule with a visit from Central Valley Tuesday, while Weston Ranch (2-5, 2-9-1) will have a bye.

— Jagada Chambers
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