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Sophomore sensation leads Cougars to Buff Cup title round

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David Molina scored five goals during the Buffalo Cup, the most by any player in the two-day tournament.


POSTED September 5, 2009 10:24 p.m.

Statement made.

The Cougars can play.

Although Weston Ranch fell to Bret Harte, 2-0, in the championship round of Manteca High’s 2nd Annual Buffalo Cup Saturday afternoon at Guss Schmiedt Field, it was a stunning 3-2 win over Los Banos in the semifinals that spoke volumes.

Down 2-1 to the Tigers with three minutes and change remaining on the clock, sophomore captain David Molina turned in perhaps the most exciting sequence of soccer plays that Weston Ranch has ever seen.

The game-tying goal came when fellow captain BJ Gonzalez and Molina converged in the box. The Tigers’ keeper came out to stop the run, but Gonzalez poked the rock to Molina, who then curled it and kissed it off the crossbar and into net.

“It felt great,” Molina said. “It meant that we were back in it, and that we could do it. There was three minutes left, enough time to score another goal. Our team just got inspired by the second goal, we went for it and it happened.

“We deserved it.”

With a minute left on the clock, Molina received a through a midfield, bobbed and weaved his way around a trio of Tigers, met the goalie one-on-one and tattooed the game-winner past the near post.

As the Weston Ranch sideline went nuts, Molina pumped his fist, smiled from ear to ear and was mobbed by his teammates.

The goal was Molina’s third of the contest, and his fifth in three tournament games, the most by any player in the Buffalo Cup.

“David steps up every single game,” Cougars head coach Carlos Gaspar said. “The kid got all three goals. He’s just a stud. He knows where to be; he knows where the ball is going.

“What can I say? He’s going to go somewhere. The kid’s going to go pro. I hope he does, and I wish him the best.”

But it wasn’t all about Molina Saturday.

Down four starters, including one of Gaspar’s best, Margarito Juarez, a number of Cougars took their game to the next level.

Keeper Jesus Pacheco was incredible throughout the tournament, not only with his energetic play, but his vocal leadership as well.

Christian Ascencio was a rock in the backfield beside sweeper Eddie Pacheco, who, alongside Molina, was named to the All Tournament team.

Alvaro Munoz turned in a tireless effort at midfield, Marco Nigrete was pivotal up top, and freshman call-up Luis Ochoa played an important role on short notice.

“We had four starters out and we still took second,” Gaspar said after the Cougars were awarded their runner-up trophy. “We should be proud.”

Eddie Pacheco and Molina were both injured in the contest with reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champion Bret Harte, which was a 1-0 game until the final moments, when a questionable call awarded the Bullfrogs a penalty kick.

By the end, the Cougars were the walking wounded, but the young squad left every last ounce of energy on the pitch.

“If we were healthy, we would have won this tournament,” Gaspar said. “But (Bret Harte) is a good team, and they played really well. We’ve been playing a lot of champions lately, but I’m glad. That’s going to give us important experience heading into league.”

Said Jesus Pacheco: “Believe it or not, I think we played well against (Bret Harte). They’ve been winning games, 4, 5-0, and we didn’t have all of our players.”

Weston Ranch (2-2-1) has very little time to bask in the glow of their accomplishment, however. Five games loom on next week’s docket.

The Valley Oak League campaign kicks off Sept. 14.

Manteca 4, Waterford 3
Patterson 4, Manteca 2

The tournament hosts wrapped up fourth place Saturday at Manteca High, going 1-1.

In the early morning win over Waterford, Robbie Geerlof turned in a hat trick and assisted on Manteca’s fourth goal, which came off the foot of Alex McAdams.

Dallas Vasquez assisted on Geerlof’s third goal.

“He played well this morning,” Manteca head coach Justin Coenenberg said of Geerlof. “He was definitely a huge part of the win.”

In the consolation championship, Manteca got goals from Jesus Espinoza and Niko Gonzalez. Marvin Foerster and Vasquez were credited with the assists.

“(The tournament) was an opportunity for us to try some different formations,” Coenenberg said. “We moved some people around. We’re still not settled. We’re still trying to find a balance as a team.”

Vince Herrera was named to the All Tournament team.

Manteca (1-4) takes on Escalon Tuesday and Tokay Thursday.

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