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Cougars come up short in section championship

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Cougars come up short in section championship

Kevin Medina of Weston Ranch tries to get past a Liberty Ranch defender in a 3-2 win for Liberty Ranch in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game on Saturday.

WAYNE THALLANDER/The Bulletin/


POSTED November 17, 2013 10:07 p.m.

STOCKTON – The Weston Ranch High boys soccer team accomplished a lot this season, but the top-seeded Cougars will look back on their 3-2 loss to No. 3 Liberty Ranch for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship on Saturday at Stagg High wondering how different things could have been.

Early in the second half Weston Ranch missed three golden opportunities – two wide-open looks that sailed wide and a third that hit the upright – that would have changed the complexion of the game.

 “I thought the one that hit the post got net and I was celebrating,” Cougars coach Francisco Cisneros said. “We definitely had our chances. And at this stage of the season you have to take advantage of the chances that you get.

 “But I felt that our guys played a great game. We gave ourselves a really good chance to win and I felt we dominated a lot of the game.”

 Where Weston Ranch (17-6-4) was moving the ball well but just could not finish, two of the three goals for the Hawks (14-8-2) came about because of luck as much as anything else.

Liberty Ranch got its first goal early in the game on a penalty kick thanks to a called hand ball in the box on the Cougars for a 1-0 lead. Leading 2-1, the Hawks got an insurance goal in the second half when an attempt to clear the ball deep by Liberty Ranch sailed high and past the Weston Ranch goalie into the net.

Hawks coach Tom Gomez had respect for the Cougars’ effort.

 “Weston Ranch had a pretty good team and they played us tough,” Gomez said. “Our guys stepped up at the end and got two goals in the second half.”

The Cougars got on the board during stoppage time in the first half when Omar Centeno found Hector Maldonado to knot the score at 1-1.

.“Omar was able to get me the through ball,” Maldonado said. “When I was one-on-one with the defender I was able to beat him and take the shot.”

Centeno got a goal on a loose ball in front of the net with seven minutes left in the game to draw within 3-2.

“It was a hard game and I was just trying to score,” Centeno said. “It was a rebound and I hit it and it went in.”

Centeno said of his pass to Maldonado, “I saw him open and I gave him a lob pass and he got it and scored.

Weston Ranch may have lost in the quest to be the first Cougars team in any sport to win a section title, but Cisneros realizes how far his team came this season.

“We got second place and everyone is disappointed – that’s for sure.” Cisneros said. “But we have to take a step back and realize that we had a great season and that Liberty was a pretty good team.

“I am proud of my guys and the way that they played and we will have to look over the loss and see that we had a good season.”

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