Weston Ranch got its revenge, and with it the outright share of the school’s third Valley Oak League boys soccer championship.
Sophomore Aaron Silva scored twice, as the visiting Cougars soundly dispatched Sierra 2-0 Tuesday at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium to avenge their only defeat and roll into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in good form.
It was a different story at this point last year when the Ranch topped the VOL table for much of the campaign only to have the championship taken away by Sierra in the regular-season finale. A week later, the Cougars were routed by Natomas 6-0 in the first round of the SJS Division IV playoffs.
“It’s my last year playing and it was good to win it here,” Weston Ranch’s Jesus Vega said. “The most important thing is we are VOL champ by ourselves and it feels great.
“We can celebrate and enjoy this but we have to stay focus to keep this going for the next level. We want to go as far as we can.”
Weston Ranch (9-1-2, 11-1-6) starts its chase for SJS banner No. 3 on Feb. 18. The Cougars claimed back-to-back section crowns in 2014 and 2015.
It was presumed they’d need at least a tie on Tuesday to capture sole possession of the VOL title, but even that was not necessary because of Oakdale’s 2-1 upset loss to Central Catholic. Regardless, Weston Ranch got the result it wanted and it was a far cry from the 4-2 loss to the Timberwolves (6-5-1, 9-8-2) on Jan. 16.
Captained by Armando Garcia and Vega and backed by fourth-year goalkeeper Francisco Vega (Jesus’ twin brother), the improved back line has come up with four clean sheets in the six games since.
“We took a look at some video from that game and our shape defensively was horrible,” Weston Ranch coach Francisco Cisneros said. “Since that game we’ve been playing a lot more organized. Defensively, we turned it up, and that’s what we needed to do going into the playoffs.”
Offensively, it was Silva’s turn to shine on Tuesday. He benefitted from Elvin Bolanos’ centered cross in the 14th minute, leading to an uncontested goal. Silva cashed in on another easy opportunity in the 37th minute after Sierra netminder Lorenzo Reyes blocked Kevin Urrutia Hernandez’s initial long-distance attempt.
Lacking a standout striker, Cisneros said “it has been a team effort” on the attacking third.
“We’ve had different guys step up each game,” he said. “Last game it was Bryan Rodriguez who scored our lone goal in Oakdale and we didn’t have him today. This game was for him. He picked us up against Oakdale and we wanted to do it this time for him.”
Rodriguez played with a heavy heart in the Cougars’ 1-0 win at Oakdale last Thursday, and he has since travelled to Mexico for his grandfather’s funeral.
While Weston Ranch feels it is peaking heading into the postseason, Sierra is mired in a bit of a slump having dropped three of its final four matches. The playoff-bound Timberwolves finish in fourth place but were in the hunt to repeat as VOL champion by the midway point of league.
They were limited to six shots against 13 for Weston Ranch and missed their two best opportunities early — Adib Guedoir had a 1-on-1 try deflected away by Francisco Vega, and Gerardo Magana’s direct kick from the left edge of the penalty box skipped off the crossbar.
“Our team has changed,” Sierra coach Joe Pires said. “For some reason we’ve hit a wall and we haven’t been able to put a complete game together. Today was one of those days. We didn’t play real bad, we just couldn’t finish.
“That is very concerning,” Pires added. “We’re not in a good position going into the playoffs. We’d like to be playing at a decent level or at least have some chemistry going in.”
East Union 4, Manteca 0
Thanks to Central Catholic’s stunning win over Oakdale, the Lancers (7-1-4, 10-3-8) vaulted into second place in the VOL after their win at Guss Schmiedt Field.
Cristian Perez led the way with three goals, Noe Martinez had three assists and Alex Arroyo added a goal and an assist. Keeper Fernando Ambriz secured the shutout.