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Sierra fails to capitalize on early opportunities

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Sierra High's Aaron Montes and Erick Noriega, background, react in frustration as visiting Patterson players celebrate following the final whistle at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium Tuesday. Sier...


POSTED November 10, 2010 3:09 a.m.
If the close ones counted, Sierra High would be on its way to the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV boys soccer playoffs.

The problem for the Timberwolves is that they don’t. They didn’t make the close ones count early on, and visiting Patterson did in the second half.

The result for the Valley Oak League champions was a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the Western Athletic Conference’s runner-up.

Patterson (11-10) faces Sierra Valley Conference titlist Vista del Lago, a 3-0 winner over Ceres, Thursday.

Rajaee Delane scored on a header in the 57th to tie it at 1 for Patterson, and four minutes later he assisted his wide-open brother, Sajaad, for the go-ahead goal.

Edwin Perez converted a beautiful shot from the right side in the 27th minute to give Sierra its only lead, lofting it over Patterson goalkeeper Adrian Gonzalez and hitting the left upper 90.

“To be honest with you, I think we got too comfortable (with the lead) and that’s what hurt us,” Sierra coach Jose Montes said. “We were not putting pressure on them.”

That was not the case in the first half.

Just seven minutes in, Aaron Montes launched a curling shot from 35 yards out but narrowly missed the right post. Moments later, Montes delivered a corner kick that Erick Noriega controlled and sent an uncontested attempt over the crossbar.

Sierra (17-8-3) had its two best looks of the match on the same sequence midway through the first half. Nico Gonzalez snuck behind the Patterson defense when a lofted through ball was fired into the box, but Adrian Gonzalez was able to deflect the point-blank attempt away. With Patterson’s goalie out of position, Amir Guedoir collected the ball near the left post but had his clear shot blocked by defender Emmanuel Sotelo.

“Sierra came out really strong. They put a lot of pressure on us early and we just kind of weathered the storm,” said Patterson coach Greg Hartsell. “We were lucky to get out of there (down) 1-0.”
Nico Gonzalez had another breakaway opportunity in the second minute of the second half but was again thwarted by the Tigers’ keeper.

Sierra had its best shot to tie it in the 68th minute, and Joel Boling’s attempt from short range was deflected off a Patterson defender in the goal box and cleared away from danger.

“We could have finished more shots. We had a lot of opportunities,” Nico Gonzalez said.

The silver lining for Sierra is that its young team, which has five sophomores such as Gonzalez playing significant roles, got a taste of what the section playoffs are all about.

“This year was just the beginning for us,” he said. “We’re going to give it our all the next few years.”

Coach Montes was able to set aside the disappointment from the loss. After losing most of his top players to graduation from last year’s postseason team, he thought this to be a rebuilding year.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought we were going to be VOL champions,” Montes said. “I hope they matured today. In the next two years they can turn this into something special.

“Now it’s on us. They know what they have to do.”
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