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Area teams gearing up for postseason

East Union to make first playoff appearance in 18 seasons

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Area teams gearing up for postseason

Sierra High's Nico Gonzalez, left, and East Union's Dylan Foster have at least one more match to play. Sierra and EU will start the first round of the SJS Division IV playoffs next Tuesday.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED November 5, 2010 3:12 a.m.
There are two unbeaten teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV boys soccer playoffs, and one that has lost just once.

They figure to be the favorites, and East Union plays one of them.

East Union and rival Sierra, champion of the Valley Oak League, kick off first-round action next Tuesday. On Thursday, the VOL’s third-place finisher, Oakdale, dropped a 1-0 decision to Union Mine in the bracket’s play-in match.

Sierra (17-7-3) hosts 2009 Division V champion Patterson (10-10) at 5 p.m. East Union (12-6-2) travels to Galt (10-0-4), the No. 2 seed out of the Sierra Valley Conference. That game is scheduled for a 6 o’clock kickoff.

East Union will make its first postseason appearance since the 92-93 season, which was the last year that boys soccer was played over the winter in the section. That was also when the Lancers captured a third straight VOL title.

East Union was in position to earn the league championship this year, but Manteca spoiled that opportunity with a 5-3 upset in the final contest of the regular season.

“The kids are starting to get into the right frame of mind,” said co-head coach Allan Green. “They’ve finally shaken off that loss against Manteca. They were laughing and joking around in practice (Wednesday), and it was nice to see them enjoying the game again instead of thinking about what happened last week.”

Getting the players mentally focused was the first order of business for Green and Coach Clarence Goes. Now they’re hoping for good health.

Already ravaged by injuries — assist-leader Jordan Kron is out for the year, while starters Dante Pasquini (hip flexor) and Alex Dias (ankle) are questionable for the playoff opener — the Lancers are currently battling through a bout with the flu bug.

East Union can use all the help it could get against Galt, a team that has given up just five goals all season. Goalkeeper Alex Gonzlaez has nine shutouts, and Jaime Gamez leads the Warriors with seven goals.

Galt was the SVC runner-up behind Vista del Lago (13-1-2).

“From what I hear, they don’t have a whole lot of size but they’re all real quick,” Green said. “We’re preparing for the unknown: We don’t know much about them, but they don’t know much about us either.

“We just want to go in there relaxed, have fun and don’t worry about the result.”

Sierra coach Jose Montes said his team is going in blind as well.

Patterson had been the class of the Western Athletic Conference until former VOL titleholder Central Valley (14-0-2) and Ceres (8-8-3) — both section qualifiers — joined the fold.

The Tigers have Division IV titles in 2002 and 2003 while reaching the Division V finals three straight years from 2007-09. Edwin Sanchez (10 goals, 18 assists) and Rajanee Delane (12 goals, 4 assists) are two of Patterson’s top players.

With just three returning starters, Montes’ young Timberwolves will surely have their hands full Tuesday and beyond should they get by Patterson.

Sierra made it to the semifinal round last year and got knocked out by Ceres, and in 2006 it was beaten in overtime by Lincoln of Placer County 1-0 in the finals.

“It’s going to be a good experience for us, but at the same time our goal is to make it to the final game,” Montes said. “That’s what we’ve been focused on, is to play the last game of the season and winning it.”
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