Now that East Union's boys soccer team is back on top in the Valley Oak League, the challenge going into the final two weeks of the season is staying there.
The good news is that despite a lackluster 2-0 win at Weston Ranch, the Lancers were able to pad their lead with Manteca upsetting second-place Sierra on Wednesday. On Monday, East Union and Sierra played to a 2-2 tie.
"A win is a win - we'll take it," East Union coach Clarence Goes said. "I just have to keep these kids motivated for every game and make sure they don't take anyone lightly."
East Union (7-1-2, 9-7-2 overall) didn't score until the final seven minutes. Jairo Baires finished off a well-timed through ball from Victor Garibay in the 73rd minute. And in the 75th Miguel Barbosa scored after Cruz Hernandez's initial shot caromed off a post.
Otherwise, it was a struggle for the Lancers to mount threatening attacks for most of the match.
Dominic Riella did his part, as the goalie picked up six saves.
"We just couldn't connect," Goes said. "We made a lot of bad passes and the kids were not communicating well enough. It was one of those days where nothing seemed to be going our way, and it was getting a little bit scary until the end there."
Lathrop 3, Oakdale 3
For a second straight match, it took a late goal for the Spartans (3-4-3, 9-8-4) to escape with a draw. This time, it was Roberto Macias who came through, heading in a shot off Ricardo Morales' cornerkick in stoppage time.
Lathrop remains in sixth place but can vault its way up to fourth next week, but time is running out on its postseason hopes.
"It was a very physical game, but the boys didn't back down," said Lathrop coach Rudy Almeida, adding that each team had a player ejected with red cards. "Overall, I'm pleased that they were able to get away with a point. It's always tough to play in Oakdale."
Morales scored Lathrop's first goal in the opening half, Gilberto Duran netted the second off a pass from Vicente Lopez.
Lathrop 3, Oakdale 0
The Spartans got goals from Danny Lizcano, Sergio Earillo and Juan Magallon in the one-sided victory.