LATHROP – Sierra High was 10 minutes from putting itself in position for the top spot in the Valley Oak League and Lathrop’s Danny Becerra changed that in a six-minute span.
Becerra turned a one-goal deficit into the Spartans’ first-ever win over Sierra, erupting for a goal in the 65th minute followed by the winner six minutes later for a 2-1 Lathrop win. Sierra would try in vain to net another goal, getting one quality look with no score.
“I’m usually in the middle but sometimes they put me up at forward and when they’ve done that I have been able to score,” Becerra said. “Today, I was playing middle just trying to help control things and at the end the coach told me to go up and I tried to make the most of it.”
There’s no question as to if Becerra made the most of it, getting a perfect-cross from Gilberto Duran for a near effortless score to knot it at 1-1. Becerra’s second goal was the reward of his game-long hustle. Sierra defender Felipe Alfaro and Becerra raced for a ball heading out-of-bounds. The two got to the ball moments apart, but Becerra was able to turn around with possession and get off the game-winner.
His shot from the right corner traveled the distance, striking the far-left post and bouncing in for a Lathrop win.
The win seemingly left the Spartans with legitimate playoff hopes, but a catastrophic loss from the Manteca Buffaloes against the Oakdale Mustangs will leave the Spartans on the outside looking in of the postseason.
“It was really exciting,” Lathrop head coach Lenny Lial said. “We had a great practice yesterday with the guys working really hard and I thought that that might play into today. We knew that they needed this game. They needed it and we needed it, it’s our home field and we just did not want to come in here and give up.”
What seemed like the end of the world for the Timberwolves actually became easier to cope with once news circulated about Manteca High’s loss to Oakdale. The Buffaloes loss leaves Sierra with the inside track to the league title, closing out the season against Weston Ranch.
The Buffaloes will have a showdown with the East Union Lancers, who knocked them off 4-1 in their first league meeting.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Sierra co-head coach Jose Montes said. “Lathrop was coming through. They got those, you don’t want to say luck goals, but they were just crosses and we weren’t focused, just going for the ball and that’s what happens.
“We looked OK at times, we just have to learn how to finish as well as we defend.”
Sierra will need to fend off a stubborn Weston Ranch team with the VOL title and top seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason.
Sierra 3, Lathrop 1
The Timberwolves were able to handle the host Spartans 3-1 Tuesday in VOL action.
The win gives Sierra back-to-back victories in league play after beating Kimball.