In more ways than one, Modesto High was its own worst enemy in a 2-1 loss at Manteca Thursday.
The Panthers over-aggressive play in the box led to Manteca High’s first goal and forfeited their 1-0 second-half lead. Their second episode of over-aggressiveness would prove more costly, as two Modesto defenders simultaneously went for a ball with the keeper and handed Manteca an own-goal and the win.
The Buffaloes (8-0) sent Ramon Rodriguez to the box to handle a penalty kick in the 60th minute, and he didn’t miss, connecting past a diving keeper who guessed right but came up empty.
“We’ve practiced PK’s all year,” Manteca head coach Justin Coenenberg said. “And he’s our guy.”
Rodriguez tied it up at 1-1 and seemingly inspired the Buffaloes club in the same stride. Manteca struggled with the physicality of Modesto early on, consistently came up short on 50-50 balls and by the end the Buffaloes were still undefeated on the season.
“This wasn’t our best game, but part of the reason it wasn’t our best game is because Modesto is such a good team,” Coenenberg said. “They made things difficult. They are a really talented team with extremely skilled players that made things hard on us.
“We didn’t play our best game, but my guys hang in there and they don’t quit.”
Manteca protected a superior effort from keeper Abdiel Chiquito, who turned in leaping, diving saves and most importantly, timely saves that kept the Buffaloes in the contest long enough to steal it. Chiquito finished with eight saves and his third consecutive 2-1 victory.
“He is that last game in the Central Valley win,” Coenenberg said. “He’s an incredible athlete; just a little undersized but he’s just full of heart and big saves.”
Modesto (3-4-1) echoed those sentiments. Walking off the field after an own-goal and a costly penalty in the box, the Panthers knew Chiquito was as responsible for the loss as themselves.
“I felt good about our effort because they are such a good team over there,” Modesto head coach Matt Mendes said. “You want to see your players go into the challenge hard and clean. Obviously we had a guy sent off because he pushed the limits and paid the price. And I can tell you that keeper for Manteca is one hell of a player.
“Sometimes I think size is a little overrated. If you’re athletic and you’re fearless it makes up for a lot.”