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Firing Blanks

Sierra offense sputters, Ceres returns to final

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Firing Blanks

Sierra midfielder Eric Noriega clears it as Ceres' Pedro Gomez charges in.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin/JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED November 13, 2009 4:02 a.m.

CERES — The third time was not the charm for Sierra.

Ceres swept the Timberwolves during the Valley Oak League season with two one-goal wins and completed the trifecta Thursday with a 2-0 victory in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals at Bulldog Stadium.

Ceres (16-5-3) will try to get a monkey off its own back Saturday during its section straight finals appearance.

Two-time defending VOL champion and crosstown rival Central Valley, which is 4-0-2 against Ceres since 2007, defeated El Dorado 2-0 on the road in the other semifinal.The Bulldogs lost last year’s championship match to River City.

“(Sierra) was one of those teams I didn’t want us to play, because when you beat a team twice and they beat you in this game the other two don’t mean anything,” Ceres head coach Koeurn Phe said. “That really put the pressure on us.

“We were fortunate to win this game. You have to give credit to Sierra and the Valley Oak League.”

Ceres did all of the damage in the first half.

Alejandro Castro snuck one in from inside the penalty box in the 9th minute, and Luis Martinez, working off goalkeeper Kyle Cerny’s long punt, poked in the other with three minutes to go in the half.

Sierra (17-8-3) was flat for the entire first half and was outshot 11-3, but goalie Luis Garcia recorded three saves to keep the Timberwolves within striking distance.

“Ceres is a great team and they deserve it,” Sierra senior defender Emmanuel Ortiz said. “They came out in the first half and did what they needed to do and we didn’t. In the second half we gave them (our best), but they held us off.”

Sierra picked up its play in the second half but couldn’t hit on several point-blank opportunities. Ricky Pacheco and Oscar Garcia had the best looks, but they both cleared the crossbar twice during a 10-minute stretch that was Sierra’s most dominant of the match.

Ceres’ defensive line did well to fluster Sierra’s leading scorer Braian Gomez (29 goals), who hardly had any touches.

“We knew it was going to happen, and it was frustrating to see that we couldn’t stretch the field,” Sierra coach Jose Montes said. “We had to go down the middle, and they used that to their advantage.”

To contact Jonamar Jacinto, e-mail jjacinto@mantecabulletin.com, or call (209) 249-3538.

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