STOCKTON — If you were looking for your seat after the opening kick Wednesday night, you may have missed the game’s first goal.
Just 34 seconds into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal soccer tilt with visiting Vista del Lago of Folsom, Weston Ranch’s Joseph Mayorca took a pass from Omar Centeno and planted it in the net on the way to a 3-0 win for the Cougars.
Weston Ranch coach Francisco Cisneros thinks that quick goal was just what his veteran team needed.
“We wanted to take advantage of their youth,” Cisneros said. “They are very young. We knew they were going to come out a little nervous so when we came out and put one away early that was a perfect way to start.”
Midway through the first half Kevin Medina and Omar Centeno combined on a beautiful give and go. A charging Medina passed the ball to Centeno and Centeno flipped it back to Medina who bounced it off the goalie for a 2-0 lead.
“That was a nice one-two with Omar,” Medina said. “I tried to find the corner and it bounced off the goalie’s arm and into the net.”
That score remained for the rest of the first half. Three minutes into the second half Medina placed a corner kick right in front of the net for Miguel Morales to head in for a 3-0 lead for the Cougars (23-4-2).
“Miguel is probably the tallest player on the field,” Medina said. “So we try and find him a lot in the games.”
That third goal was just the fourth shot that Weston Ranch had taken to that point.
“We were communicating,” Morales said. “He saw that there was nobody defending me so he got me the pass and I headed it in.”
The Eagles (10-5-3) came close to scoring late in the game when one of their shots ricocheted off the crossbar, but that was the only legitimate threat they mounted all night.
The Cougars will face Valley Oak League foe Oakdale for the SJS championship Saturday at 2 p.m. at Stagg High School in Stockton.
“I think coming into Saturday’s game we are the underdogs because Oakdale has beaten us twice,” Cisneros said. “The scores of those games were 4-1 and 4-2.
“So we will play the underdog role and come in and try to get another banner.”
This will be the third consecutive trip to the finals for Weston Ranch. The Cougars were Division III runners-up in 2013 and won the Division III championship in 2014.