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Lancers’ forfeitures keep crosstown foes in first place

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East Union forward Jairo Baires charges toward the Manteca penalty area as defender Onacis Illan trailing on the play.


POSTED October 3, 2012 12:50 a.m.

A stunningly one-sided 4-1 victory over crosstown rival Manteca left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of the East Union Lancers Tuesday.

It was set up to be a showdown between the reigning Valley Oak League champion Lancers and previously-unbeaten Manteca (6-0-1, 14-1-1) for the top spot in the standings.

Now, East Union (3-2-2, 6-3-3 overall) is scrapping just to stay in the hunt for one of three Sac-Joaquin Section postseason spots with the second half of the conference schedule still left to be played. That’s because the Lancers were forced to forfeit last week’s blowout wins over Sonora and Kimball.

East Union informed the rest of the league on Monday that an ineligible player had been used for the Sonora and Kimball games. Coach Victor Polanco said he was unaware that the player, a substitute who rarely sees the field, was ineligible.

“My job is coaching soccer,” he said. “That’s not going to bring us down. We’re going to work hard and continue playing the game.”

The Lancers have evidently put that behind them with Tuesday’s sterling effort.

They were thoroughly outplayed in the first half, as Ricardo Marin’s blast from distance pushed the Buffaloes ahead in the 18th minute. Manteca nearly scored in the opening minute, but Marcus Montano’s attempt from just inside the 18-yard line bounced off the right post.

Manteca held an 11-5 shot advantage, and goalkeeper Abdiel Chiquito was never tested.

That changed in a big way in the second half.

“Coach told us it was a wakeup call,” said East Union striker Jairo Baires, who had a hand in the team’s final two goals. “Even though what happened to us knocked us down to fourth or fifth place, we know we still have a chance to come back.

“(Manteca) is a good team. They played hard and I give them props, but it was just our game today.”

Jordan Kron gave the Lancers a huge lift with one of his patented throw-in assists. In the 47th minute, Kron bombed it from the right sideline and into the goal area, where Alejandro Perez deflected it in for the equalizer.

“We practiced defending those throw-ins and spent a lot of time on it, but their height gave us some problems,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said.

East Union was just getting started.

Freshman midfielder Alex Sanchez delivered a well-timed through ball to Alfredo Solorzano, who cashed in on the routine one-on-one opportunity in the 53rd minute.

Just six minutes later, Baires extended the lead with a skillful volley shot. Scott Fisher capped the barrage in the 66th minute, taking in an accidental touch from Baires — who was initially trying to evade a defender off the dribble before stumbling — and burying it.

Manteca didn’t fire a shot on goal in the second half until the 75th minute, when Brandon Landwehr’s desperation attempt was launched directly to Lancer keeper Lupe Flores (five saves).

“We’ve done this throughout the year; we’re not stringing two 40-minute halves together,” Coenenberg said.

Manteca looks to bounce back against Kimball on Thursday, while East Union hosts a dangerous Lathrop squad that tied the Lancers 2-2 in the VOL opener.

“Every game we’ve progressed,” Polanco said. “We’re still working on the little details. We take every game seriously like it’s a championship game for us.”

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