A 10-minute onslaught of goals turned an intense Valley Oak League girls soccer match between rival schools into a 5-1 rout favoring host East Union at Dino Cunial Field on Friday.
Regardless of the score, Lancers coach Carlos Gaspar knew his team was in trouble by halftime — even with a one-goal lead — while Manteca’s Justin Coenenberg came away encouraged by what he saw out of his young squad.
“Manteca is a tough team,” Gaspar said. “They have wonderful players, and that (Kaley) Miller is so quick. You saw the opportunities she had right there. They were in it for a lot of the game.”
East Union (5-1, 11-2-1 overall) created the separation with three second-half goals and further entrenched itself in the No. 2 spot behind VOL-leading Sierra at the halfway point of league. The Lancers were coming off a 4-0 loss to Sierra.
Jasmine Mejia tallied three goals and increased her season total to 23, while Taylor Campbell had three assists and an impressive goal on a set piece.
Manteca (3-2-1, 6-6-3) came out as the aggressor and displayed better ball possession than the more experienced Lancers. It was defender Taylor McMahon who helped snap East Union out of its early funk in the ninth minute, burying a 25-yard strike after Campbell found her on an overlapping run up the middle.
The margin doubled in the 22nd minute when Campbell sent a through ball from midfield to Mejia, who earned possession after a brief battle with a defender and finished off the breakaway.
Undeterred, Manteca continued its patient approach with its possessions while the Lancers looked for quick-striking opportunities.
“We’re not going to win a game unless we possess the ball,” Gaspar said. “We were forcing everything in the first half.”
Manteca finally got on board in the 25th minute as Kaylee Gines — who transferred from East Union — rebounded an initial miss from Miller. Isabella Avila dished a perfect through pass into the box for Miller, but the shot deflected off the crossbar and East Union goalie Malia Allen before Gines sprinted in to clean up.
The Buffaloes had terrific chances throughout the opening half. Jordyn Silva hit the left post on a penalty kick, and Miller could not convert on a pair of breakaways.
“I feel like it’s ridiculous to say but we kind of outplayed them for most of the game, we really did,” Coenenberg said. “I was proud of the way we were playing, we just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities and made some mistakes in the back.
“We can’t let balls bounce around like that. They’re a physical team and we struggled with that a little bit. They were able to just move us around and put the ball in the back of the net.”
Mejia scored both of her second-half goals from inside a crowded penalty box in the 57th and 67th minutes. Campbell came through with the goal of the match during the scoring spree, nailing the opposite panel on a free kick from an odd angle near the left corner flag.
“I wasn’t sure what to do, but my last instinct just told me to curl it in and that’s what happened,” the junior midfielder said.
Campbell and Mejia nearly struck again in the final minutes, and on the same play. Campbell had a direct kick get tipped away by Manteca keeper Aimee Meier, who then redirected Mejia’s follow-up attempt over the crossbar.
“It did spiral for a little bit for about a 10-minute period, but for the most part I was really happy with the way we played. I feel like we’re getting better every game and that’s exciting," Coenenberg said.