View Mobile Site


Text Size: Small Large Medium

Lincoln goalie Daniel Sanabia deflects the cross intended for Manteca’s Jesus Ponce.

JONAMAR JACINTO/Bulletin file photo/

POSTED November 6, 2013 12:49 a.m.

Manteca senior Jesus Ponce was called off the pitch in the 71st minute of Tuesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener with visiting Lincoln of Placer County.

He joined the rest of the team’s regular contributors on the bench, where he spent what are likely his final moments in uniform at Guss Schmiedt Field.

Ponce didn’t mind, not with a four-goal lead. It had been a while since the Buffaloes had some room to breathe late in a match, and they hadn’t scored five or more goals since Sept. 7.

With five frosh-soph call-ups in the game, fifth-seeded Manteca held off the No. 12 Fighting Zebras 5-3 behind Marcus Montano’s two goals and two assists. Lincoln’s Riley Holbrook put away the final goal, his second for the game, in the 78th minute, so there was little reason for worry on Manteca’s end.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Ponce, one of nine Manteca seniors. “We were able to relax, think about the next game and give some of the JV players we brought up a chance to get some playing time.”

Manteca (17-3-4) heads to Fairfield Thursday to meet No. 4 Vanden (16-0-1) in the quarterfinals.

The win is Manteca’s first since Oct. 22, when it dispatched a spirited Sonora squad 3-1 on the road. In the three games following the Buffaloes lost to Weston Ranch and tied both Lathrop and East Union.

Nothing came easily in the Valley Oak League for manteca season, and that was also the case at the start of Tuesday’s match.

“We started out the first 15 minutes really flat,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “I was a little surprised about that, for us to come out that way in a game like this. We played a really good second half and took it to them a little bit.”

The Buffaloes scored three goals in a 10-minute span to take a 5-1 lead by the midway point of the second half. Montano scored the final two in the 47th and 56th minutes, and his first was an impressive half-volley attempt from distance.

Jason Maravilla headed in Kevin Rodriguez’s cross in the 46th minute to begin the flurry. That came a minute after Lincoln closed in 2-1 on Holbrook’s impressive score on an awkward angle near the left post.

Manteca was fortunate to escape an early blitz from the Lincoln attack led by Christian Guzman and Logan Hasty, who was finally able to convert in the 74th minute after missing many open looks.

Quality bested quantity in this match, as Lincoln outshot the Buffaloes, 23-13, and had more corner-kick opportunities (6-3). Abdiel Chiquito had seven saves for Manteca.

Ponce helped the Buffs get going with a goal in the 19th minute. Working off Montano’s nifty one-touch pass near midfield, Ponce dribbled his way past two defenders before drilling a low toward Hector Hurtado, Lincoln’s keeper.

Ponce looked away after making his attempt, frustrated for not taking advantage of the opportunity. The ball ended up squirting through Hurtado’s arms.

And just like that the momentum had changed.

“I thought it was a weak shot,” Ponce said. “When I saw it went in I was happy it did. We needed that. It gave us confidence.”

Manuel Nuno, who appeared offsides, doubled the Buffaloes’ lead in the 35th minute. Montano was again in on the assist, delivering the pass from the top of the penalty box.

Up next is a familiar opponent Thursday in Vanden, a team the Buffaloes beat 2-1 while on their way to the semifinal round last season.

“Last year we played them and they were a really young team,” Coenenberg said. “They have some skilled players and are quick in certain positions, which made them difficult, and they had a couple of guys who can finish.

“They were a solid team then, but you look at their record this year and it seems like they have really come together this year. They are definitely not going to make it easy on us when we go up there on Thursday.”

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...