Jadyn Shinn could not hit the mark with her powerful legs, but Sierra’s star striker was deadly accurate when using her head in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinal with 10th-seeded rival Manteca on Friday.
Shinn connected on two headers for go-ahead goals teed up by perfect crosses from Jasmine Loaiza in the fourth and 66th minutes, leading the No. 2 Timberwolves to a 2-1 victory. They’ll host No. 3 Central Valley (20-1-2) — which knocked off defending champion Vista del Lago in penalty kicks — in the semifinals next Wednesday.
Fewer goals were scored in the third installment of this thrilling rivalry series, which included a 3-2 win for Sierra and a wild 4-4 draw in Valley Oak League play. The postseason stakes amped up the intensity, with the two teams combining for 22 fouls and four yellow cards.
“It feels a bit more special, because we’ve played them twice and both were very close games,” Shinn said. “For me, it’s the best feeling because they are our rival, and we knew how good of a team they are.”
And the Buffaloes (19-6-2) are well aware of how good she is, yet they could not stop the Notre Dame commit from tallying her 40th and 41st goals of the season.
“Off the corner kicks and set pieces she’s just so hard to defend,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “Jordyn (Silva) did a great job in the second half of marking her and she was all over her, but (Shinn) has the size advantage on her and is so strong. She scored two great goals on those corner kicks.”
Loaiza delivered both crosses to the center of the goal area, and after the second Shinn flashed two fingers toward the senior midfielder as they came together in celebration.
“Jasmine has been serving some amazing corner kicks, and she serves them usually at the same spot,” Shinn said. “I saw it and went full throttle into it. I tried to head it as hard as I could into any spot that was open.”
Shinn had other good looks in the second half, including a half-volley blast set up beautifully by a through ball from Yasmin Ballew and yet another header try that narrowly missed the left upright.
“I thought in the second half we played on their half of the field and put a lot of pressure on them, it was just a matter of time that we were going to get that goal,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “I’m glad we didn’t have to wait until overtime or PKs. Playoff games are always going to be intense no matter who you play, but when you play your rival like Manteca it’s definitely going to make it tougher.”
In the 30th minute, Manteca was awarded a penalty kick after a handball in the box by a Sierra defender, and Alexa Mayen knocked it off the left hand of keeper Callie Crain (five saves) for the equalizer. Mayen, a senior who played a part in Manteca’s SJS Division III title run in the spring of 2016, immediately hit the turf and was overcome with emotion as the final whistle sounded.
“It was everything to me,” she said. “All I wanted was to win, and I just wanted to go to sections and win another one. We gave it all our all and never gave up.”
The Buffs had other chances, mostly off counterattacks. They nearly jumped ahead in the 62nd minute when Kaley Miller, who finishes her outstanding sophomore campaign with 34 goals and gave Sierra (24-0-2) fits in their regular-season showdowns, had a 1-on-1 opportunity stuffed by Crain.
“This is probably one of the most dangerous teams I’ve ever coached,” Coenenberg said. “It’s disappointing to go out in the second round, but I told the girls I believe that whoever wins this game is going to win the whole thing.”