The hangover effect from last week’s loss in Oakdale led to a stunning loss for Sierra on Tuesday.
Head coach Joe Pires hopes it doesn’t lead to worse.
His Timberwolves took a 2-1 loss off a last-minute goal at Kimball, dropping them from third to fourth place in the Valley Oak League with three games to go. Weston Ranch, a 1-0 winner over Lathrop, leapfrogs them in the standings, making things interesting in an already eventful race for the three Sac-Joaquin Section postseason berths.
Defending co-champion Sierra (5-3-3 VOL, 9-6-4 overall) still had title hopes going into last Thursday’s bout with first-place Oakdale but lost 3-1. The setback at Kimball gives Sierra consecutive defeats for the first time this season and is in danger of missing the playoffs.
“The team was deflated from the loss up in Oakdale because it put us (in a position) where the VOL (title) is pretty much out of the question,” Pires said. “Now it’s a gut-check to our character. We are trying to motivate them because we can still make the playoffs and do something there. But you can see it in their body language in general today that the players were demoralized.”
Kimball (3-8, 5-14) surged to a 1-0 halftime lead as Sierra struggled to put shots away. Juan Acosta finally got the T’Wolves on board midway through the second half.
Brett Lassiter pushed Kimball back ahead with the game’s final shot. He took advantage of a misplayed ball near midfield following a Sierra goal kick and darted through the unsuspecting defense for the game-winner.
Moments later it was game over.
“The defense was not paying attention,” Pires said. “Instead of running up the sides and turning to find receive the ball they were just walking up the field. Next thing you know Kimball was on the counterattack and they had an easy one-on-one.
“Give credit to Kimball, they played a good team and they have some good athletes,” Pires added. “We missed some opportunities that came back to haunt us. I thought we played well enough to win but it was just another deflating loss.”
The good news for Sierra is that there are winnable games ahead, though Tuesday’s was also considered one, too. Sierra heads to East Union Thursday, hosts Sonora next Monday and entertains Weston Ranch on Oct. 30 for what could be a winner-take-all scenario.
Manteca 3, Sonora 1
With Sierra losing, the Buffaloes (8-2-1, 16-2-2) are now in position to lock up a playoff berth with a win Thursday at Weston Ranch.
But first they had to get through an always-dangerous Sonora (2-8-1, 6-11-1) team on the road.
Marcus Montano played a part in Manteca’s first two scoring plays in the 19th and 63rd minutes, first scoring off an assist from Jesus Ponce and then setting up Braulio Solis’ goal with his corner-kick cross.
Sonora sliced its deficit in half a minute later. Jason Maravilla’s header off a Brandon Landwehr throw-in gave the Buffaloes a more comfortable cushion in the 67th minute.
Manteca outshot Sonora 13-8 and had four saves from goalie Abdiel Chaquito.
“They played pretty inspired because it was their senior night and they had a pretty good crowd up there,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “This being the last home match for their 10 seniors and their last VOL match there (Sonora moves to the Mother Lode League next year), they played hard. They were feeding into the crowd, it was an intense, physical game and my guys did a good job of responding and keeping their composure.”
Oakdale 4, East Union 1
The Lancers (3-8, 3-12-2) were forced to battle the VOL’s top squad shorthanded with only three available subs because of injuries.
It was 3-0 before East Union got on board on Kevin Flores’ goal set up by Jessal Castellanos. The Mustangs (9-1-1, 14-4-4) had four different goal scorers.
East Union 1, Oakdale 1
Gerardo Romero’s first-half goal was answered by Oakdale’s equalizer in the second half.
East Union (10-0-1) is still in line to earn the VOL championship with three games remaining.
Gerardo Romero first-half goal, Oakdale score in second half.