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Burch, Buffs bury Oakdale in VOL opener
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Manteca’s girls soccer team may lack the offensive firepower from years past, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking capable scorers.
Madison Burch was one of five different Buffaloes to find the net in a one-sided 6-0 thrashing of visiting Oakdale on Tuesday when they began their defense of the Valley Oak League title.
Leah Manuleleua, now starring for Delta College, graduated last spring as Manteca’s all-time leading scorer and a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion. Also no longer with the team is center attacking midfielder Lejla Pepic, who opted not to come out for the team in her senior year.
Burch has stepped into a lead role for Manteca (1-0 VOL, 5-2-1 overall). She added to her team-leading total of nine goals with two to go with an assist to freshman Kaley Miller on Tuesday.
“We definitely have a lot of speed up top, and we’re OK with sharing the ball,” Burch said. “I think that’s what makes it work so well.”
Oakdale (0-1, 2-6), a longtime contender in the VOL, appears to be in rebuilding mode under first-year head coach Grace Fernandes. The Mustangs were outshot 29-2 and didn’t make their attempts until the 73rd and 74th minutes. Viviana Albor had a breakaway shot deflected away by a Manteca defender, and on the ensuing corner kick Madeline Freitas narrowly missed an opportunity to get Oakdale on board when her header sailed wide right of the target.
It was otherwise all Manteca, even with its reserves in the match for much of the second half.
The Buffaloes dominated possession throughout as Oakdale went into a defensive shell and looked to create offense with counter attacks. They weren’t given a chance.
Burch broke through in the 21st minute with a highlight-worthy goal, beating defenders to the bouncing ball at the top of the 18-yard line and blasting a half-volley shot past the keeper. Defender Rosa Becerra and Carolyn Morrish padded the lead with long-range bombs in the 27th and 39th minutes for a 3-0 Buffaloes halftime lead.
“We knew they were sitting back so I told the girls to play it back, draw them out and then look to attack,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “That kind of opened things up a little bit.”
It didn’t take long for the Buffs to strike in the second half. Two minutes in, Jocelyn Reyes knocked it in with a head shot after Burch’s initial attempt off a corner kick caromed hard off the crossbar.
Miller then scored in the 60th minute with a nifty chip shot. Burch rounded out scoring on a breakaway two minutes later.
“It took a lot of movement and communication to get open instead of just standing behind the defenders,” Burch said. “We did a very good job of that tonight.”
Manteca next hosts a dangerous Central Catholic team that shut out East Union, 3-0. Also on Tuesday, Kimball edged out Weston Ranch, 1-0.

Sierra 1, Franklin 0
Yasmin Ballew converted a goal off a feed from Daisy Valencia in the opening minutes, and the lead held up for Sierra (8-1). The Timberwolves host Kimball on Thursday for their first VOL match.
“In the second half we had a couple of good opportunities that hit the post, and we had a header blocked by one of our own players,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “It was one of those games, but they are not a bad team at all. They’re going to have a pretty good season.”