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Late celebration matters little to champions

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Late celebration matters little to champions

Weston Ranch High sweeper David Molina tries to tackle the ball away from, Sierra's Edwin Perez in the final regular-season match for both teams Thursday.


POSTED October 28, 2010 2:39 a.m.
Jose Montes was spared the Gatorade bath on a cold Thursday afternoon.

The celebration was put on hold.

Montes’ Sierra High boys soccer team did what it had to do by beating Weston Ranch 5-2 at its place. After that the Timberwolves (10-2-2, 17-7-3 overall) did the unthinkable: They became rival Manteca High’s biggest fans.

That’s because across town, Manteca had to beat or tie Valley Oak League-leading East Union under the lights at Guss Schmiedt Field for the T’Wolves to capture their third championship.

With Montes and several players huddled tightly near East Union’s cheering section, their delayed celebration came after Manteca produced a 5-3 come-from-behind upset before their very eyes.

“They were nervous, and I’ve never seen them that nervous before playing a game,” Montes said. “Now they know how the coach feels. There’s nothing you can really do but just wait and let everything happen in front of you.”

Defender Caleb Young, one of five Sierra seniors who played their final regular-season game Thursday, said right after the win over Weston Ranch (5-7-2, 8-9-4) that a title celebration is a title celebration, even if it doesn’t happen on the team’s home turf in front of its own fans.

“We definitely would have wanted to celebrate it here right after the game, but it’s still going to be great if we win it,” he said. “There will still be that same feeling.”

Sierra honored Young by giving him the opportunity to score his only goal of the season on the final play of the match.

After sophomore sensation Nico Gonzalez was tripped up in the penalty box by Weston Ranch goalie Jesus Pacheco on a one-on-one breakaway. Gonzlaez was helped off the field with a right ankle injury.

Weston Ranch standout David Molina replaced Pacheco at goal for the ensuing penalty kick, which Young drove in. An eye-blink after ball touched net, the final whistle was blown.

It’s still special to win the VOL. It’s one of the hardest things to do in this league is to win it. We knew had to stay focused with what we had to do, that anybody can beat anybody on any given day.

“It was a great feeling,” Young said. “I just appreciate my team giving me the opportunity. There were several people who could have taken that shot and probably would have made it, but my team let me take it.”

Sierra dominated both possession and shot attempts (34-13). Edwin Perez assisted Sierra’s first two goals to Dominic Alejandre and Amir Guedoir in the 7th and 41st minutes. Erick Noriega and (66th minute) and Ruben Lopez (69th) did the rest of the damage.

Weston Ranch scored off two pretty crossing sequences, with Molina hitting Elias Venegas for a header in the 64th minute and Molina on the receiving end of a Francisco Portillo pass in the 79th.

Weston Ranch has wins over the VOL’s other two Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff qualifiers (East Union, Oakdale twice), so Montes wasn’t ready to cheer for Manteca until his game was over.

“We still had to do our part,” he said. “Weston Ranch proved they could knock off the big dogs, so we knew we didn’t have an easy task.

For the Cougars, it was a season in which expectations were not reached. The talent and the effort were there for the team to reach the postseason for the first time in program history, but consistency was not.

“We did the best we could with what we had throughout the year, despite the injuries and losing kids to eligibility,” Weston Ranch coach Carlos Gaspar said. “I know I have a good team, and they show that when they play good teams. There were so many games that we had to put away earlier in the season, but overall I’m proud of my guys.”

Sierra’s previous league championships were earned in 1999 and 2006. In 2006, the Timberwolves advanced to their first section playoff final but lost to Lincoln of Placer County 1-0 in overtime.

Sierra hosts the Western Athletic Conference’s runner-up in its playoff opener Nov. 9.

“Now that we’re champions, I hope we don’t give that emotion away and think that it’s over,” Montes said. “We still have a long ways to go with what we want to do, and that’s win a section title. We’ve been to the dance before, but we want to dance this time.”

Sierra 4, Weston Ranch 4
The Cougars nearly fumbled a 3-1 lead, before getting a goal from Josh Mayorca in the game’s final minutes to salvage the 4-4 tie against Sierra (7-2-4 VOL)

Weston Ranch (4-5-4) also got a goal from Yazen Saleh and two from Victor Trejo.
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