Isela Rivera, East Union’s goal-scoring dynamo, is used to being one of the smallest players on the field, but she doesn’t let her 5-foot-1 frame hinder her.
She was the difference in the Lancers’ 1-0 victory over visiting Sierra on Thursday.
Rivera’s team-leading 17th goal was scored with an impressive head shot following Erica daSilva’s long ball on a free kick. With back turned to the goal, Rivera skillfully lofted the ball high beyond the reach of Sierra keeper Emma Broderick and snuck it under the crossbar.
“I want to head the ball. That’s the thing, you have to want to have it and I find a way to make that happen,” Rivera said. “They left me unmarked and all I had to do was finish it.”
Rivera participated in a college showcase tournament and missed last Friday’s showdown at Sierra, which was able to salvage a 1-1 tie. By winning the rematch, East Union (7-1-1, 14-1-1 overall) was able to keep pace with Valley Oak League-leading Kimball. Another draw, or better yet a win, would have huge for Sierra (2-6-1, 6-7-3) with its postseason chances quickly dwindling.
The Timberwolves did put forth another strong showing against a superior East Union club that is one of the more experienced and talented ones around.
“I’m very proud of the way my team played — very hard until the end,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said.
“We were one play away from tying them again. It was a great finish. That girl is very strong in the air and knows how to play the ball and how to get in position to be the first one there. She knew exactly what to do and placed it perfectly. Other than that I thought our team really shut them down pretty well.”
Sierra’s two best chances came in the second half after East Union dominated the first 40 minutes. East Union goalie Ashley Almeida came up with a big save on Sydnee Canales’ dangerous free kick from distance in the 61st minute, and with two minute remaining Canales nearly connected with Jessica Cuenca on a cross but was thwarted again by Almeida.
Cuenca collided with Almeida on the play and was helped off the field after turning an ankle. That could be a blow to an already injury-ravaged front line. Sierra’s best scoring threat, Naomi Nunis, hyper extended a knee against Manteca on March 15 and has missed the next six matches since. Sierra may be down its two leading scorers for Saturday’s contest with Sonora.
All in all it was a typical Sierra-East Union tussle. This one included 21 fouls, and five players were issued yellow cards.
“That was a clash,” East Union coach Jim Todd said. “These two teams just know how to rise up to play against each other. Players from both of these teams and Manteca all know each other very well. Sierra is a tough team.”
Manteca 6, W. Ranch 1
Manteca didn’t have too much trouble putting away Weston Ranch during a VOL contest at Guss Schmiedt Field.
The Buffaloes (5-3 in league, 12-5 overall) led by three goals at the break. Weston Ranch (1-6 VOL) cut its deficit to two in the second half off a direct kick.
Leah Manuleleua and Sammie Morris finished with two goals each, with Chenayi Tavaziva and Taylor Teixeira adding one each. Manteca outshot the Cougars, 22-8.
Manteca will be at Sierra this Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. night game.
Sonora 2, Lathrop 0
Edna Magana stepped up and played a solid game in the net for Lathrop. After the Spartans (0-8 VOL, 4-13-2 overall) lost their starting goalie to an ejection in the first half, recorded five saves to keep the team within reach.
Sonora scored its first goal on a penalty kick and doubled its lead in the second half. Lathrop did outshoot its opponent and tallied 16 shots on goal.
The Spartans will have a make-up game today at 6:30 p.m. at Kimball Tracy.
Ripon Ch. 5, Denair 0
Natalie Prins assisted three goals and scored one of her own to lead the first-place Knights (9-0-0 SL, 13-5-1 overall.
Adri Van Groningen netted a pair of goals, with Teagan Manus and Courtney Bloemhof accounting for the rest. The shutout was the fifth of the season for Ripon Christian. Bryanna Heida recorded five saves, with Emily Hoeksema and Taylor Vos providing good defense.
East Union 4, Sierra 0
Atalie Cardenas struck for two goals as East Union coasted to victory. MandiKay Roberts and Mariah Jefferies scored one apiece.
Bulletin reporter John-Joel Griffiths contributed to this report.