Linden took out its frustrations on Manteca, rallying in the second half for a commanding 2-0 win at Guss Schmiedt Field on Thursday.
For the host Buffaloes (4-3) it was just a continuation of a frustrating stretch. After accumulating 15 goals in their first three games, they’ve been shut out by three opponents in their last four contests. Although the Lions (1-3-2) held a narrow 15-12 edge on shot attempts, they had the far better looks and even had chances to turn what started out as an evenly-contested match into a blowout.
“We’re not doing a real good job of settling the ball, playing 1-2 touch and moving without the ball,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “There is too much dribbling right now, and because of that we’re not creating scoring opportunities.”
Jose Servin had a hand in both goals, scoring one and assisting the other.
He broke the ice in the 45th minute with a header off a perfect, high-arching cross to the opposite post from Gerson Morales. Linden put it away in the 66th minute when Servin delivered a through ball to Edwin Menera for a routine 1-on-1 opportunity.
Servin was robbed of a possible hat trick. In the opening half, he had one close-range attempt skip off the crossbar and later had a header deflected by Manteca goalie Matsua Garcia-Mendez (eight saves). Garcia-Mendez had another big save in the second half to keep the Buffaloes within reach, slapping the ball over the goal on Pedro Morales’ rocket of a free kick from nearly 40 yards out.
Linden, traditionally a contender in the Mother Lode League, will live with the missed opportunities for now. The Lions finally got to taste victory at the end of their brutal non-league schedule that includes a 7-0 defeat to Galt, the state’s No. 11-ranked team, according to MaxPreps.
“It’s what we needed going into our league because we have a month off now,” Lions coach Hans Frey II said.” I told my guys last night that we needed to be able to sink our teeth into a win. We lost 11 seniors last year so we have a young team, but the talent is there.”
The same can be said of Manteca, a squad that Frey lauds as “very good” and “proven.” Although mired by an offensive slump, Coenenberg said that a lack of effort and communication may be a more pressing concern heading into next Monday’s Valley Oak League opener with Oakdale — the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III runner-up last year.
The Buffaloes simply were unable to match Linden’s energy and enthusiasm throughout the game.
“They were intense and didn’t let up when they went to the bench,” Coenenberg said. “We needed to play more like that.”
Lathrop 1, Delhi 0
LATHROP — The Spartans (4-3-1) fired more than 20 shots, but all they needed was one to prevail in their pre-league finale.
Luis Vargas netted the lone goal off an assist from Christian Cardenas. Jefry Raduales kept the sheet clean with four big saves.
“We dominated the majority of the game, so it was disappointing to come out with just the one goal to show for that,” Lathrop coach Alfredo Reynaga said. “But the guys stayed hungry the whole game and kept going for it. There was no letdown at all.”
Lathrop opens VOL play next Monday at Sierra.
Lathrop 2, Delhi 1
Jose Luis scored on a penalty kick, and Malcolm Lopez put the go-ahead goal in for the Spartans.