STOCKTON — Weston Ranch descended from cloud nine to rock bottom in a matter of minutes on Monday.
Leading 2-0 at halftime, the Cougars lost their starting goalkeeper to an injury, had to play a man down after a player got hit with his second yellow card of the game and dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Central Catholic.
“We had been building some momentum and everything was going great,” Weston Ranch coach Francisco Cisneros said. “Then an unfortunate turn of events ruined the night and possibly our playoff chances.”
Ariel Silva helped push Weston Ranch (2-5-2 Valley Oak League, 4-9-2) in the right direction, assisting first-half goals for Bryant Ortiz and Mario Martinez. Things started going downhill in the final minutes of the half when freshman goalie Francisco Vega (seven saves) went down with an apparent hip injury after kicking the ball. The Cougars’ back-up keeper was out sick, forcing Miguel Ismerio (four saves) to man the goal in an emergency situation.
“He hasn’t practiced as a goalie probably ever,” Cisneros said. “Central Catholic took advantage.”
It only got worse for Weston Ranch after a player ejection had them competing shorthanded for the final 19 minutes of the match. The Raiders (5-3-1, 7-5-4) took control from there, scoring the tying goal and eventually the go-ahead on a penalty kick.
“For us this was a must-win situation if we wanted to keep our playoff hopes alive,” Cisneros said. “We were right where we wanted to be in the first half. We’re way better than our record shows, we’ve just had a lot of bad bounces go our way. We were thinking we’re finally getting over the hump, and all of the sudden things turned around quickly.”
Weston Ranch has five games to make up some ground, but it looks bleak with first-place East Union and Manteca next on the schedule. Only the top four teams in the VOL qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, and the Cougars are currently in sixth.
East Union 8, Lathrop 0
First-place East Union (9-0-1, 14-1-3) had its way with the Spartans (0-9-1, 4-12-2) at Dino Cunial Field.
Giovanni Ruelas was one of seven different Lancers to score, finishing with two goals and an assist. Victor Hurtado added a goal and an assist, while Danny Gomez pitched in a pair of assists.
Jacob Garcia, Enrique Perez, Tyler Soulier, Giovanni Padilla and Hector Romero each netted a goal.
Manteca 2, Kimball 0
TRACY — Aron Navarrette and Everardo Velasquez (assisted by Edgar Oropeza) accounted for Manteca’s goals at Don Nicholson Stadium.
The Buffaloes (4-4, 9-7-1) outshot Kimball (2-7-1, 4-9-1) 14-7, and goalie Matsua Garcia-Mendez collected six saves.
“It’s always an adjustment playing on (artificial) turf, but we were able to possess the ball pretty well and it didn’t seem to affect us too much,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said.