Bryan Ramos is humble but relentless, a goal-thirsty striker who won’t give up on a play, a run or a teammate.
“He has the size and speed you want,” Sierra High boys soccer coach Joe Pires said, “and the never-give-up attitude is the difference between him and everyone else.”
Juan Acosta’s wizardry with the ball in the midfield and playful personality are often mistaken for hot-doggin’, but his imagination and creativity are the backbone of the Timberwolves’ attack.
“He’s one of the few players that get into a group of four or five players and he’ll find his way out with the ball,” Pires said.
Ramos and Acosta are the perfect picture of yin and yang, polar opposites who seem to bring out the very best in one another.
Together, the dynamic offensive talents have teamed to keep the Sierra boys soccer team in line for a second consecutive Valley Oak League title as the season nears the midway point.
The Timberwolves wrapped up the first half of league play with a 3-2 victory over Weston Ranch on Tuesday.
The Cougars’ Francisco Garcia scored a pretty bicycle kick in the 22nd minute to tie the score at 2-all, but Sierra stretched its winning streak to four matches with Acosta’s penalty kick in the 72nd minute.
Sierra trails frontrunners Oakdale (5-0-1) and Manteca (6-1-0) by mere percentage points in the league table.
The Timberwolves are 5-1-1 and 9-4-2 overall, ravaging opposing defenses with a rapid-fire offense that is tops in the VOL.
In fact, it’s not even close.
Sierra has 24 goals in seven games – four more than Oakdale (17) entering Tuesday’s games, eight more than Manteca (16) and the same as next three teams in the standings combined: Sonora (4, entering Tuesday’s games), Weston Ranch (9) and East Union (11).
The number is tame given the volume of shots and opportunities Sierra has created each game.
“We miss a lot of goals, but you can never score all the goals,” Pires said. “We seem to miss a huge amount, but because of the players we have and the talent we’ve got, they never give up. It doesn’t stop them.
“We just wear down the opponent and that’s how the goals come.”
Ramos has developed into one of the area’s top producers with a team-high 17 goals and five assists. The senior had five goals alone in blowout wins over Kimball and East Union.
He had two in Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over Weston Ranch.
“His work ethic is just relentless,” Pires said. “He has a never-give-up attitude and he’s a great teammate. He goes to every ball and he makes every run.”
With his deft touch and acumen, Acosta is the conductor of the Timberwolves’ deep attack. His ability to possess the ball attracts multiple defenders, allowing teammates to play in space.
His teammates have been warned, though – don’t get caught watching.
Pires routinely reminds his players not to get mesmerized by Acosta’s smooth dribble. The pass, Pires says, can come at any moment.
“Just a very talented player,” Pires said of Acosta, who has 10 goals and nine assists. “His ball skills are amazing. To someone who’s never seen him play, he probably comes across as a ball hog and dribbles too much.
“… (But) he fits the style we play. He has a very good delivery; just a perfect touch.”
He’s not the only one.
Five players have at least five assists, including Jesus Coronado (seven goals, nine assists), Henry Diaz (eight assists) and Cesar Martinez (five goals, six assists).
Those numbers may balloon down the stretch. Sierra hasn’t been held to less than two goals in nearly a month, and the Timberwolves played favorably in a draw with still-unbeaten Oakdale and a 3-2 loss to Manteca.
“That was a big disappointment because of the chances we had against Manteca,” Pires said. “Their goalkeeper (Abdiel Chaquito) was unbelievable. We’re looking forward to playing them at our house.”