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EU avoids upset with second-half surge
Pepe Villasenor leaps for a loose ball during Valley Oak League action at Lathrop High School on Thursday. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
LATHROP — For a half, it appeared as if Lathrop would pull off the biggest upset of the Valley Oak League season — even if it were to end in a scoreless tie.

Several players from East Union were tardy to the contest Thursday, and coach Clarence Goes had to shuffle the starting lineup and roll with people playing out of position.

The Lancers avoided the upset, as Alvaro Lemus jump started them with two early second-half goals in the 4-0 victory.

“Lathrop is getting better and came close to scoring in the first half,” East Union coach Clarence Goes said. “It was scary.”

Alejandro Tapia hooked up with Lemus with a cornerkick for the first goal, and Lemus struck again on a penalty kick after Juan Vazquez when taken out in the box.

Vazquez was later fouled again for another penalty-kick opportunity. Brandon McGuiness’ shot was deflected by the goalkeeper but was given another chance to punch in the game’s final score after he was fouled on the rebound.

Sophomore sensation Cruz Hernandez, playing his third game of the season, also scored with Vazquez on the assist.

“We had a real bad first half,” Goes said. “We didn’t have our sweeper, we had two different forwards up front and had our goalie playing the field. We just didn’t click at all.

“But in the second half we kept the ball on their side the whole time.”

East Union (7-5-1, 10-8-2 overall) kept its slim Sac-Joaquin Section playoff hopes alive with the win and will host dangerous Weston Ranch next Tuesday.

W. Ranch 3, Oakdale 2
At Weston Ranch, the host Cougars (4-7-2) made Oakdale’s quest to make the playoffs that much tougher with the stunning victory. An emotionally-charged second half led to four red-card ejections — three going against Weston Ranch, which had to play three players down for the final 15 minutes while nursing the one-goal lead.

The Mustangs (6-6-1, 13-7-1) previously thumped Weston Ranch, 10-1.

“I always knew they had it in them to play this way,” Weston Ranch coach Carlos Gaspar said. “I told the seniors to enjoy their last home game and play their hearts out, but the whole team came to play. I’m really proud of them.”

After an own goal gave Oakdale the game’s first goal, the two teams traded three more over the next 11 minutes to go into halftime tied at 2. Margarito Juarez and Benjamin Gonzalez scored in the 20th and 26th minutes for Weston Ranch, and Abraham Bustamante netted the deciding goal six minutes into the second half

Ceres 1, Sierra 0
In Ceres, David Estrada blasted in the game’s lone goal in the first half to put the Bulldogs (9-2-1) in the driver’s seat for the VOL’s second-place spot.

Sierra (8-2-3, 13-7-3) had a chance to tie twice on one bang-bang sequence in the second half. David Reyes took a shot that ricocheted off a Ceres defender, and the Timberwolves felt it should have been called dead because of a handball. Oscar Garcia tried to follow it up but missed the point-blank opportunity.

“Ceres is in second place for a reason — they are well balanced from back to front,” Sierra coach Jose Montes said. “They dominated the first half, but we came out strong in the second half. Our goalie, Luis (Garcia), made some key saves and kept us in the game, we just couldn’t put (shots) away.”

Sierra will head to Sonora Monday for a make-up game, and two of its biggest playmakers, Braian Gomez and Ricky Pacheco, will return after missing Thursday’s contest because of accumulated yellow-card suspensions.
— Jonamar Jacinto