Rocio Lopez took her final time suiting up for the Manteca Buffaloes to heart, posting back-to-back second-half goals to help her Buffaloes beat the East Union Lancers 3-1 Wednesday in the Valley Oak League finale at Guss Schmeidt Field.
Lopez broke a 1-1 tie when she attacked the East Union defense, got separation directly head on with the goalie and lofted a nice shot out of the reach of a leaping Ashley Almeida. The 2-1 lead would not last long, as Lopez connected for her second goal five minutes later.
“It was really an awesome feeling for me,” Lopez said after the win. “I’m just so happy for our team, it was nice to be able to win the last game.
“It was nice to be able to support my team.”
Manteca asserted itself as the squad to beat in the game’s first five minutes, when striker Airenne Curry gathered in a ball around midfield, and won a foot race with the East Union defense that ended with Curry powering a goal past a diving Almedia into the bottom-right corner.
“When you’ve got these seniors out here and they know it’s their final game,” Manteca head coach Justin Coenenberg said. “We’re not going to playoffs, so they know this is it and they get pretty fired up.
“The first 15 minutes of that game we were playing on pure emotion.”
It was evident the Buffaloes had an advantage in the emotion department, beating the Lancers to the 50-50 balls and not allowing East Union to get into any kind of rhythm throughout the first half. East Union got a goal from a Regina Dias header early in the second, yet was unable to transition the goal into momentum.
“We just came out unprepared and not focused on anything,” East Union’s Kianna Lamont said. “It wasn’t our best game, that was easy to tell, we’re just going to go practice hard and focus on next week.
“We are going to be ready for our playoff game.”
The Lancers will open Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV tournament against the Western Athletic Conference’s No. 3 seed Patterson High May 12. An East Union victory in Round 1 would put the Lancers on the pitch against the Sierra Valley Conference’s No. 1 seed.