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Sierra completes season sweep of Buffaloes
Dallas Vasquez races towards the goal alongside Sierra’s Jesus Guitron during second half action of Sierra’s valley Oak League win over the Buffaloes. - photo by HIME ROMERO
For the second time in four days, the Manteca Buffaloes found themselves looking up at a 1-0 half time deficit against Sierra

The damage proved to be irreparable, as Sierra rolled to a 3-0 win in the Valley Oak League contest at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium Thursday.

The Timberwolves dominated from the opening whistle, forcing the Buffaloes to play catch-up for the game’s final 70-plus minutes.

On Monday, Manteca was down 1-0 to start the second half when it made up the rest of their first meeting originally scheduled for Oct. 15. The first match between the two squads was cut short when the lights went out at Manteca’s Guss Schmeidt Field.

 “Early goals have plagued us all season,” Manteca head coach Justin Conenenberg said. “All season long we have given up a quick one so we’re always playing down. We did play a little better in that second half, but we still have to get better.”

Sierra (6-1-3 VOL, 11-6-3 overall) rode the hot foot of senior-captain Braian Gomez, who notched his first goal in the second minute and would add both of Sierra’s other goals on his way to a hat trick. Gomez was phenomenal throughout, constantly creating for himself and for his teammates.

“Getting that early goal kind of put us at ease with our game plan,” Sierra head coach Jose Montes said. “We were able to just execute after that.”

The Buffaloes did all they could to keep the scoring at a minimum with Sierra steadily on the attack, yet holding Gomez to a hat trick is the best they could do. Gomez hauled in a beautiful pass from Oscar Garcia in the middle of the field, settled it on his chest before gathering and connecting on his first shot of the game.

Nearly 18 minutes later he was at it again, outhustling a pair of Manteca defenders to a loose ball and firing a shot across his body to the far-right post, sending the Timberwolves up 2-0 and basically securing the victory.

“We have been working with him (Gomez),” Montes said. “He has so much energy that sometimes it gets him out of his game. The game-plan was to stay home and let the opportunities come to him and make them count.

“That’s what we want from him, to be patient and let the game come to him.”

Gomez would tack on his final goal 12 minutes into the second half, locking up the Sierra win and forcing the Buffaloes to cope with another tough league loss.

“We came out and instantly we were losing,” Manteca’s Vince Herrera said. “We have to work harder to open the game. Ususally, when we get down our team falters, but (today) we kept going.

“We even got a couple of opportunities, but we couldn’t put them away.”

The Timberwolves unit is seemingly rolling on all cylinders, passing with extreme efficiency, scoring early and often and setting themselves up for a legitimate Sac-Joaquin Section postseason run.

“I would be surprised if this Sierra squad doesn’t make the playoffs,” Coenenberg said. “They should be one of the top three teams in our league. They have been a solid club and they’ve gotten better as the year has gone on.”

Sierra will look to continue with full steam ahead as they play host to the Oakdale Mustangs Thursday, while the Buffaloes (2-7-1, 3-13-1) will battle with the Weston Ranch Cougars at 4 p.m.

East Union 6, Oakdale 3
The East Union Lancers pierced the back of the net for four unanswered goals to shake up the VOL standings even further with their three-goal win.

The two teams walked into the halftime intermission linked at two goals apiece, yet an unstoppable Lancer effort in the second half proved to be the difference. Oakdale came out and took the lead with the first goal of the second half and East Union answered with four consecutive goals to up its league mark to 6-3-1, assuring the squad of meaningful games for the remainder of the VOL season.

“I was really pleased with our guys,” East Union head coach Clarence Goes said. “We were down two goals in the first half and we came back to tie it. I was pleased that the kids never gave up.

“It was a good effort from all of my players, they just kept the faith and continued to work hard.”

Alejandro Hernandez played the role of hero, scoring on four of his five shots in the contest. Teammate Victor Garibay also added a pair, knocking in both of his shots taken.

East Union will try and solidify its postseason chances with a strong closing on the remainder of the VOL schedule.

“If we can keep playing like we did today,” Goes said. “There is a good chance for us to get to the playoffs. The thing is for us to continue playing with this consistency.”