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With both rosters limited, Lathrop and Sierra battle to season-opening stalemate
Sierra-Lathrop boys soccer
Sierra’s Emmanuel Ruiz (22) tries to gain possession from Lathrop’s Oliver Hernandez (10) as Ociel Mora (21) looks on. - photo by Wayne Thallander

With a good share of the rosters of both teams still obligated to club ball, Sierra traveled to Lathrop on Monday and the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw in non-league boys soccer action at Bennie Gatto Field.

“We knew this was the first game of the year,” Spartans coach Alfredo Reynaga said. “We have a lot of kids playing ECNL so they are still inactive and some of Sierra’s players weren’t here either. So I knew we were going to battle it out today. Last year when we played them we didn’t do so well, we weren’t prepared. This year I think we were more prepared.

“We have a lot of talent and a lot of depth. We didn’t hit the panic button at halftime. We thought that we had pretty good control of the game despite trailing 1-0 on a call that was unfortunate against us. We kind of stayed humbled and kept playing our game. We knew we were going to have an opportunity in the second half and we did.”

The Timberwolves (0-0-1) took a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute. Lathrop (0-0-1) was whistled for a high kick directly in front of its own

Sierra-Lathrop boys soccer
Lathrop’s Eduardo Torres (5) and Sierra’s Hugo Reyes battle for the ball.
goal setting up a very short range indirect kick. Estabon Franco tapped the penalty kick to Emmanuel Ruiz who blasted the ball into the net for that 1-0 Sierra lead.

“When the referee ruled it an indirect free kick, I already knew what I was going to do,” Ruiz said. “I had a plan and obviously it worked.

“I’m feeling pretty good about that.”

The Spartans eventually countered in the 61st minute when Ociel Mora took a through ball from Jorge Garcia and found the back of the net from 10 yards out to tie the game at 1-1.

“I saw the ball coming to me from my teammate Jorge Garcia,” Mora said. “And I had to finish the ball.

“Once that ball was at my feet I knew I had it. I shot the ball and it went in.”

The Timberwolves put up five shots on goal in the first half – four of which were saved by Spartans goalie Jashanbir Bhuee – but in the second half Sierra had no shots on frame. One of the reason for that may be that the Timberwolves started the second half with six fouls to just one for Lathrop.

“We have a lot of young players in there,” Sierra coach Joe Pires said. “Our team is very different than what it will be in two or three weeks. I have five players that can’t he here, so I have so many players playing different positions that they were being caught off shape and behind the ball and then they had to grab and foul.

“We just didn’t have a good game overall. It was our first game of the season, and everyone is learning how to play together.”

The second game of the year for the Timberwolves will be Friday morning in the Cougars Cup against tournament host Weston Ranch at 10:30. Lathrop hosts Enochs of Modesto on Wednesday at 6:45 p.m.


Junior varsity

Lathrop 3, Sierra 0

Francisco Martinez, Clever Hernandez and Victor Salvador each scored a goal for the Spartans.