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Early lead holds up as Ranch fends off Lathrop
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LATHROP — The ball bounced Weston Ranch’s way at the end of the game to help squelch a Lathrop rally and give the Cougars a 4-2 Valley Oak League soccer win at Bennie Gatto Field.

After trailing 3-0 at halftime, the Spartans (0-2 VOL, 3-6-1 overall) battled back to come within 3-2 and were threatening in the final two minutes when the Cougars (2-0, 2-8-2) were awarded a corner kick. With the ball bouncing around in front of the Lathrop goal, Manuel Medina buried it in the net for a Weston Ranch insurance goal and the 4-2 win.  

“We know Lathrop is a good team and they were going to come out really aggressive in the second half,” Cougars coach Francisco Cisneros said. “I like how we responded late in the game.

“They had us back on our heels pretty much the second half but eventually we responded well and put one away at the end to ice it.” 

Spartans coach Alfredo Reynaga sees good things ahead from his scrappy team. 

“I told the kids at halftime that we have to play like there is five minutes left in the game right from the beginning of the second half,” Reynaga said. “Because when you are down 3-0 like that it is hard to come back. I have seen it done, but it is hard to do. 

“Weston Ranch is a good team, and I knew coming back was not going to be easy, but I know what I have in this team and there is a lot of fight in these Lathrop kids. They gave it their all in the second half but we shot ourselves in the foot in the first half. We have to correct those mistakes and if we play like we did the second half every half I think we will have a successful season.”

Robert Gonzalez was in on two goals for Weston Ranch. He scored off of an assist from Mario Martinez in the 33rd minute and two minutes later lofted a through ball to Ariel Silva who finished it out for a 3-0 Cougars lead.

“I saw Silva running straight down the middle and I hit the ball over his head,” Gonzalez said. “And it went straight to him and he got a pretty good finish on it.”

Fifteen minutes into the game Devon Alvarenga took a pass from Silva at the 18 and spun around to bury the ball in the net to put Weston Ranch ahead 1-0. 

In the 57th minute Ronaldo Macias grabbed a rebound on a corner kick and powered the ball into the net to get Lathrop on the board. With 16 minutes left in the game Miguel Chavez buried a penalty kick to draw the Spartans within 3-2.

“Throughout the whole second half I told myself I was going to leave it all on the field,” Macias said. “My friend Miguel Chavez almost hit it in off the corner, it was so close, but then I got the chance and I took it. 

“I wanted to help bring this team back up and keep fighting to the end.”

Weston Ranch took 14 shots with 10 on goal and Lathrop had 10 shots with eight on frame. Francisco Vega had six saves for the Cougars and Will Smith made six saves for the Spartans.