Sierra picked up a pair of second-half goals on the way to a 3-1 Valley Oak League girls soccer win over cross-town rival Manteca at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
“I saw a lot of intensity on both sides,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “It was very physical, aggressive game. Everyone was fighting very hard for every ball. I have to give it to these girls. We may have a young team, but they played very, very hard. They stayed focused and in a game mindset.
“This was not a great game as far as possessions for us, but we kept playing and battled all the way through to get the win, especially against our rival. They only have two losses on the season, and both are to us. I knew it was going to be a battle.”
With 10 minutes left in the first half the Timberwolves’ Tiana Cello was fouled in the box, setting up a penalty kick by Jenna Villanueva for a 1-0 lead.
Cello got in the act midway through the second half when she took a pass from Nicole Martin, drew the Buffaloes goalie out and then blasted the ball into an empty net to put Sierra (9-0 VOL, 19-1 overall) ahead 2-0.
“My teammate got me a nice through ball and I saw the opportunity to go one-on-one and I made a run behind their line,” Cello said. “Once I got there I saw their goalie was out of the box and I saw the goal was open so I shot it. Thankfully it went in.”
With 5 minutes left in the game Melanie Nguyen took a corner kick in the middle of the box from Juliana Camenzind Rodriguez and shot it in the net to up the Timberwolves lead to 3-0.
“I heard my back Julianne Munoz telling me to cover the back,” Nguyen said. “I listened to her and I got a touch on it.”
The Buffaloes (6-2-1, 15-2-3) did not go away quietly. In the closing moments of the game Jordyn Silva launched a free kick in from 30 yards out to make the score 3-1.
“That goal felt really good,” Silva said. “That is my first time ever scoring on Sierra. When I shot it I didn’t think it was going in until the goalie fumbled it and it went in. I had a good chance in the first half but it went over the goal.
“Sierra’s a great team and they played very well, but we all played very strong and we never gave up. We are all proud of ourselves even though we lost.”
There was a sense of electricity in the air as the night was the 25th anniversary celebration of Sierra soccer and a number of alumni from the decades past were on hand.
“With all the festivities going on we knew they were going to come at us and we held strong,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “It was back and forth. The first time we played, I think we came out a little bit overconfident and they took it to us.
“It may be a 3-1 loss, but I am happy with the way we played. We played much better than we did the first game against them. We created opportunities, the problem is we didn’t convert on those opportunities.”
The Timberwolves did not score a shot from the field until midway through the second half and Coenenberg attributes that to his back line.
“I can’t say enough about Mia Treacy in the back,” Coenenberg said. “She is one of the best defenders we have ever had in the program and she does such a great job of taking control of things back there.
“There were a couple of key situations where she was able to step up and stop their counterattacks and that saved us big time.”
Sierra hosts Central Catholic on Monday at 5:45 p.m. and on Wednesday the Buffaloes play Weston Ranch at home at 5:45 p.m.
Sierra 1, Manteca 0
Lela Schluer got the lone goal for the Timberwolves in the first half on an assist from Kaila Ward.
Annika Beall notched 10 saves for Sierra.