Pay no mind to Lathrop’s record.
This is a team that opposing coaches worry about facing, especially at this stage of the Valley Oak League season. The Spartans showed why once again Wednesday, when they gave postseason contending East Union fits before falling 3-2 at Dino Cunial Field.
Lathrop (2-7-1 VOL, 9-11-2 overall) had a 2-1 lead at one point and moments where it looked like the dominant team. James Rendon tied it on an assist from Gerardo Romero in the 49th minute for East Union (6-3-1, 8-3-2), and the Lancers went ahead for good in the 70th minute on Gustavo Vasquez’s opportunistic goal. The ball bounced around inside the penalty box as Lathrop defenders desperately tried to clear it before Vasquez settled it.
Although East Union swept its season series with Lathrop, it was a far different type of match than their first meeting, a 4-1 blowout for the Lancers.
“I have to (commend) Lathrop because they really came to win the game,” East Union coach Victor Polanco said. “I’d say for the first 15 minutes they were moving the ball very well and we were just chasing them around. They played very well and it was a good, back-and-forth game.”
Thomas Suarez gave East Union the first lead in the 28th minute, but soon after Jose Castellanos knotted it for Lathrop. Castellanos struck again in the final minute of the first half.
“Disappointed in a game we should have won with over 15 shots on goal,” Lathrop coach Alfredo Reynaga said. “We were up 2-1 at one point and let EU take momentum away.”
It was a big win for East Union, which jumps into a third-place tie with Manteca after the Buffaloes played Kimball to a scoreless draw Wednesday. Only three teams out of the VOL advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
It doesn’t get easier for East Union, as it hosts second-place Oakdale next Monday.
Manteca 0, Kimball 0
In Tracy, the Jaguars (1-5-4, 2-11-5) were able to keep Manteca (6-3-1, 11-4-2) off the board on their artificial turf despite a 25-5 disadvantage in shots attempted.
Jose Zamarripa had five saves for Manteca.
“I thought we played really well,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said . “We dominated the game, outpossessed them, we were disciplined and dynamic. We had some great opportunities to finish and we didn’t. I have to hand it to their goalie; he came up big with some unbelievable saves, especially in the first half.
“I’m upset, obviously, that we didn’t get the win, but I can’t knock our guys’ effort. They were just a little bit unlucky.”
Weston Ranch 9,
Central Catholic 0
The Cougars (10-0, 17-2-3) had eight different goal scorers in Wednesday’s rout.
Hector Maldonado scored twice, one in each half. Angel Portillo started the onslaught with a penalty kick. Jose Maldonado, Francisco Garcia, Joseph Mayorca, Mariano Perez, Jose Espinoza and Deon Coffey also netted goals.
Weston Ranch has won 11 straight and is 15-0-2 since the midway point of the 2013 VOL season. Stiffer competition is ahead, as always-dangerous Lathrop and third-place Manteca await.
Oakdale 1, Sierra 0
The visiting Mustangs (8-2, 13-4-3) scored the deciding goal in the opening half, but it was an otherwise evenly-played match at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium. Hard-luck Sierra fell to 2-6-2 in league, 6-13-4 overall.
“In the second half we dominated and had three good looks but could not finish,” Sierra coach Joe Pires said. “We had one open net and shot over the crossbar. Not our day, but big effort by the team. They never gave up.”