Sometimes, it is about being in the right place at the right time.
Weston Ranch’s center back Armando Garcia could not have been in a better place if he tried Tuesday night.
Locked in a scoreless Valley Oak League boys soccer contest with visiting East Union, the Lancers got a shot off that was deflected back to Samuel Diaz who rebounded the ball around Cougars goalie Francisco Vega and fired a bullet toward the Weston Ranch net.
Knocked to the ground on the goal line, Garcia reached out with his leg and sandwiched Diaz’s shot between his knees with eight minutes left in the game on the way to a scoreless tie. The result puts the Cougars in a first-place tie with Oakdale, which was idle Tuesday.
“We knew we had to have defensive intensity,” Weston Ranch coach Francisco Cisneros said. “They are a really good attacking team so we came out more defensive-minded. We were missing a couple of our key attackers and that really affected us up front, but at the end of the day it is the scoreboard that counts and some of our guys stepped up big-time today.
“Our crowd was great. Need to give a big shout out to the administration for getting the school involved. It felt like it was 12 on 11 tonight. Our guys were very appreciative of the fact that they had guys cheering them on and I’m sure that is something they are going to remember because this was the senior night. Some of the seniors from last season asked me where this type of thing was last year.”
Garcia was part of a defense that repelled 15 shots.
“You have to keep your cool especially in games like this,” Garcia said. “On that play I knew I had to be there for my goalie because he was covering the big space and I was watching the whole play from behind.”
Vega was kept busy with six saves, including two back-to-back in the 76th minute.
“We just have to keep our heads,” Francisco Vega said. “He (Valdez) saved us. It was a big play.”
As has been the case all year, East Union (7-1-2 VOL, 10-4-4 overall) had no problem getting the ball near the net but with this the eighth tie for the Lancers, East Union coach Ronnie Green is frustrated.
“It is kind of disheartening,” Green said. “This is the second time we have played them and we outshot them both times. Last time they won in the final two minutes. They’re a good team. I’m not taking anything away from them, but I just think we outplayed them and it is disheartening coming away with a tie.
“We had two balls stopped on the goal line that should have went in, one hit the crossbar and another the upright. Their goalie played well tonight. We had several shots on him.”
With two game left before playoffs, the Cougars (24 points) control their own destiny with away games at Oakdale (24 points) on Thursday and Sierra (19 points) on Tuesday. Tied with the Timberwolves, the Lancers (19 points) host Kimball on Thursday and close the league schedule at Manteca on Tuesday.
Sierra 5, Manteca 1
Sierra kept its slimming title hopes alive, blowing out the visiting cross-town foe at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
The Timberwolves (6-3-1, 9-6-2 overall) are chasing Valley Oak League co-leaders Weston Ranch and Oakdale but trail both by four points with two matches remaining. They’ll host Weston Ranch for their regular-season finale on Feb. 11.
Sierra took care of business against the Buffaloes (3-8, 5-11), getting two goals and an assist from Adib Guedoir. Gerardo Magana had one goal and an assist. Tristan Gonzalez and Audie Garza each scored once. Jordan Shinn contributed an assist.
Weston Ranch 3, East Union 1
Angel Zapata, Joseph Reneles and Alexis Chavez each scored a goal for the Cougars and Ivan Guerra notched an assist.
Alan Irigoyen scored the lone Lancers goal.