When Alejandro Hernandez’s header found the back of the net as time expired, it was simply the final blow in East Union’s one-sided 2-0 victory over the visiting Manteca Buffaloes at Dino Cunial Field on the East Union High campus.
The Lancers wasted little time jumping on top of Manteca, converting on a Alexander Tapia shot just four minutes into the contest and providing a stellar East Union defensive crew with all the offensive support it would need.
“Defensively, I think we played better than we usually do,” East Union’s Marc LaRocque said. “We really shut them down. We were able to beat them to the ball. In other games we’ve never done that, this game, we really stepped up and made sure we got to the ball before they did.”
East Union (5-3 Valley Oak League, 8-6-1 overall) held the advantage throughout the entire contest, consistently applying pressure on the Buffaloe side of the field and leaving Manteca (2-5 VOL, 3-11 overall) with minimal opportunities to make good on a shot.
Manteca keeper Florin Lambert did all he could do, turning away nearly 20 shots from in front of the net, yet the consistent pressure from East Union left the Buffaloes with a hand full of chances to muster up something on the Lancer half of the pitch.
“The difference tonight is that we continue to give up early goals in the first five minutes of games,” Manteca head coach Justin Coenenberg said. “We have done that all year. We’ll play solid for the rest of the half, but the first five minutes is just too crucial a time.”
The Lancers found themselves with ample opportunities to turn the game into a one-sided scoring affair, but East Union’s non-stop attacks on goal continuously ended in blown opportunities or great saves from Manteca’s Lambert.
“I was pleased with our effort,” East Union head coach Clarence Goes said. “But I thought we could have at least scored more goals. We still need to work more on the offensive side. They’re really lacking on that.
“We had a couple of break-away’s and we didn’t make them, so we definitely need a lot of work still.”
Manteca fought without cease over the game’s final 40 minutes, but there was nothing the Buffaloes could do to penetrate and East Union backfield that kept Manteca at bay for nearly 90 percent of the contest.
The Lancers were led by LaRocque and teammate Francisco Marmolejo in the middle combined with a relentless assault from Tapia and teammate Alvaro Lemus up front. Goal keepers Joseph Modesto and Frank Costa combined on the shut out, yet needed only three saves in the process.
The Lancers will look to try and improve on their offensive action when they make the trip to Sonora to take on the Wildcats Tuesday, while Manteca will try and right its wrongs in a home match with Ceres High.
The Sierra Timberwolves got everything they needed from one player when Timberwolve Ricky Pacheco exploded for the hat trick in a 3-1 victory over the Weston Ranch Cougars.
Pacheco made good on three shots, two of which were assisted by freshman Erick Noriega to help Sierra improve to 4-1-2 in VOL action and 9-6-2 overall.
The Cougars were forced to battle through adversity as several of the Weston Ranch starters were left on the outside looking in for disciplinary reasons.
“We can’t make excuses,” Cougar head coach Carlos Gaspar said. “When my starters don’t come to practice they don’t play. We had seven starters on the bench and my goalie’s hurt.
“I had to put my starters in to win this game, but it’s more about respect and discipline before going out there and trying to win a game.”
Bryan Baldeon notched the lone Cougar goal and Sierra High’s Brian Gomez assisted Pacheco’s other goal. Sierra will get to enjoy the confines of their home stadium as the squad is set to host back-to-back-to-back home games beginning with a visit from the Buffaloes of Manteca Oct. 6.