The Manteca-East Union rivalry still had some meaning for the two postseason-bound teams involved in the Valley Oak League finale Wednesday at Dino Cunial Field.
Second place and a favorable playoff seed were on the line for the visiting Buffaloes, who had four different players score goals in the 4-1 victory.
That wasn’t all that motivated the Buffs. The previous result between the two teams did not sit well with Manteca (8-2-2 VOL, 17-2-4 overall), which edged the fourth-place Lancers (6-6, 8-10-2) 1-0 four weeks ago.
“We felt that last time we outplayed them and the score was just a 1-0 game,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “We didn’t capitalize on some opportunities. It had been a few years since we have beaten them handily and we wanted to come out and score some more goals and we did that.”
The Buffs did have some near-misses in the opening minutes, two blocked by East Union goalkeeper Malia Allen. Aleah Melendez finally broke through in the 10th minute, as Jordyn Silva found the sophomore wide open on the right wing for the 1v1.
East Union did well to fend off the scoring chances that followed, including a breakaway save by Allen and another from center back Jazzmin Martinez, who cleared Silva’s deflected shot off the goal line.
Manteca was eventually rewarded once more in the opening half for its persistent result. Freshman Cameron Silva lofted a perfect cross from the right corner to Kaley Miller for a headed strike in the 24th minute.
Cameron Silva recorded a second assist early in the second half, with Esmeralda Ochoa on the other end of the through ball. Isabella Avila capped scoring for Manteca in the 75th minute.
“One of the things we’ve really been working on is possessing the ball and moving it around with one-two touches,” Coenenberg said. “We spend so much time in practice on that and it’s paying off. We’re also working on scoring on headers and we got one tonight.
“We’re getting a lot of different girls, which makes us more difficult to defend come playoff time. Pretty pleased with the way we ended the season going into the playoffs”
East Union did not go down quietly on its senior night, getting its goal in the 77th minute. Taylor McMahon finished off the scoring sequence, taking advantage as Manteca keeper Aimee Meier was out of position after not coming up with the loose ball. Meier otherwise had a solid night between the posts with six saves.
The Lancers never let up despite the growing deficit and created some good scoring chances of their own, such as a 1v1 breakaway in the 31st minute that was blasted over the goal. They outshot Manteca in the second half 7-3 and both finished with 13 attempts.
“I like the effort, especially in the second half,” East Union coach Carlos Gaspar said. “It’s always hard to come back when you’re down two goals, but the shots were there and they did not go in.”
Brackets for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs will be released by the section on its website www.cifsjs.org Friday afternoon.