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Spartans shoot for tourney title

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POSTED September 7, 2013 2:19 a.m.

MODESTO – Lenny Lial took one look at the Gustine bench, teeming with fresh legs, and thought the worst.

With only 14 players and playing its second game of the day, the Lathrop boys soccer coach expected his team to limp to the finish.

Instead, the short-handed Spartans put themselves in position for a run at the Gregori Tournament title today.

Ramiro Ceja finished a penalty kick with about eight minutes left, securing a 1-0 victory over Gustine. Lathrop was 2-0 on Friday, including a 2-1 decision over Johansen in the early game.

“We show up to these tournaments extremely short-handed,” Lial said, “which we’re getting used to.”

Even with tired legs, Lathrop dictated the tempo in its win over Gustine. The Spartans (4-2-1) created several scoring opportunities but couldn’t break through with a goal until the 17-minute mark of the second half.

Games featured 25-minute halves.

Sergio Carrillo earned the penalty kick after he was fouled in the box while driving on goal.

“We had a lot of chances. We were moving the ball pretty well; that was a good sign,” Lial said. “They had a tremendous bench and I thought they’d wear us out. It didn’t happen that way. We moved the ball and their keeper made some outstanding saves.”

Eric De Leon had three of his own to earn the clean sheet. De Leon had five total saves in the two victories for the Spartans, who play Central Catholic in today’s opening game.

Jose Castellanos and Danny Lizcano scored in the victory over Johansen.

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