Sierra played perfect defense from the second minute to the 78th Monday against visiting East Union.
The final: East Union 2, Sierra 2.
“It was an interesting game,” East Union coach Victor Polanco said.
Indeed it was.
An own goal helped the Lancers take the first lead in the opening minute, but they didn’t place a shot on frame until the 72nd minute when a header off a corner kick was saved by Sierra keeper Luis Garcia.
Down 2-1 in the 79th minute, Gerardo Romero netted the equalizer for East Union following a well-built attacking run from the left sideline. Defender Jesse Garcia lofted a cross to Romero, whose initial half-volley attempt was blocked by a Sierra defender. Romero stayed with it, this time slotting it high to where Garcia or another defender couldn’t reach it.
“We had a good play that started from the back. When I had another opportunity I had to take it,” Romero said. “We worked hard to get that (opportunity). Can’t give up on it.”
Just moments later, Romero just missed what would have been the winning goal on another half-volley try, nailing the upper-left 90.
“With about 8 minutes left I had to take one of my defenders out and play three forwards,” Polanco said. “It was either tie or lose the game. We were lucky to get the tie.”
Sierra was fortunate it wasn’t a loss. The Timberwolves could ill afford to fall deeper in the standings as they try to keep their heads above the shark-infested waters of the Valley Oak League.
Sierra (1-2-2 VOL, 5-9-3 overall) was coming off a head-scratching 2-2 tie against Kimball, and considering that it outpossessed and outshot its rivals Monday’s result was just as disappointing. East Union (2-2-1, 4-2-2) remains in fourth place.
“We’re in a deep, deep hole right now,” Sierra coach Joe Pires said. “We lost two points here and lost the two points at Kimball, that’s four altogether. We’re going to see what kind of character these guys have. We have another game Wednesday (against winless Central Catholic) to get three points out of that and start playing better soccer.”
Sierra got off to an ominous start with the own goal, as defender Eriq Kurys was not on the same page with Garcia on what appeared to be a routine negative pass to the goalie.
“The defender didn’t look up and the goalkeeper never communicated,” Pires said. “The goalkeeper just assumed he was going to kick it to the outside and Eriq, who is more of a natural forward, never looked up to see where he was.”
The opening half otherwise belonged to Sierra. Luis Mendoza, set up by Eddie Aguilar, tied it with a strong shot from the left side. In the 65th minute, Kevin Mendiola centered it to David Lopez for the go-ahead score.
The Timberwolves’ earlier mistakes and missed opportunities came back to haunt them in the end.
“We’ve been in this situation a few other times where we gave up the go-ahead or tying goal in the final minute,” Pires said. Our players are just not playing smart when we’re ahead and we need to bring the (pace) down. We just keep kicking the ball ahead and give it to the other team and let they start building (attacks). It seemed like they wanted it more than we did, but give them credit, they hustled. We possessed the ball, we had chances but we can’t finish. We need to come up with a different way of doing things.”
East Union 10, Sierra 0
Daniel Gomez scored four times as East Union erupted for nine goals in the second half to break it open.
Jesus Hurtado added two goals, while Jacob Garcia, Giovanni Ruelas, Alexis Parras and Tyler Saucier chipped in one apiece.