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Aguilar scores in 77th minute as Sierra stuns top-seeded Galt
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GALT — With a full squad, Joe Pires believes his Sierra boys soccer can beat anybody.

The Timberwolves proved him right Thursday.

Eddie Aguilar was at the right place at the right time in the 77th minute, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory that knocked out top-seeded and defending champion Galt in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.

The Warriors (16-1-2) had a 25-game unbeaten streak ended by No. 8 Sierra (16-8-3). 

“That was the best team we’ve played so far,” Pires said of Galt. “Their touches on the ball, the quality of play — they were unbelievable, we were just one goal better. Everybody on our team played ‘A’ game, and if they can do that they play with just about anybody.”

Sierra struggled during the second half of the Valley Oak League season and ended up in fourth place after beating its first seven league opponents. But the yellow cards along with injuries and sicknesses began to mount, and the Timberwolves competed without many of their top players down the stretch.

They’re not exactly at 100 percent still. Oscar Guitron, brought up from the frosh-soph team, filled in admirably at left fullback for an injured senior.

“He was outstanding tonight, and he never came off the field,” Pires said. “Between he and Carlos (Mendez), if he one didn’t get to the ball the other one did. Our defense played pretty well overall.”

Goalie Saul Aguiniga ended up with four saves.

With the back line doing its job, Eriq Kurys and Aguilar (five shots apiece) was leading the attack. 

Opportunity struck when Joel Lemus sent a cross from the left side, igniting a wild scramble in front of Galt’s goal. Kevin Mendiola managed to poke it out away from the scrum, and Aguilar was there to put it away.

Galt, desperate to force overtime, pushed the attack in the final minutes but couldn’t crack Sierra’s defense, which was able to jump start a couple threatening counter-attacks in the process. 

Sierra travels to No. 4 Livingston (23-3-2) in the semifinal round next Tuesday. It’s a rematch of last year’s second-round contest won by Livingston, 2-1.

“We know Livingston is a tough team,” Pires said, “but our kids are believing. They haven’t had that in a while, but they’ve settled down and we’re playing our game now. Hopefully we could have a couple more games like that.”