TRACY — Edgar Zelaya has had the luxury of resting his best players in an effort to keep them fresh for the postseason.
That trend can continue now that East Union has the Valley Oak League championship already wrapped up with still two matches remaining. The Lancers clinched the outright crown Monday at Kimball’s Don Nicholson Stadium with a 2-1 victory highlighted by Jesus Hurtado’s first-half goals. Their last league title came in 2011 under Clarence Goes.
“It’s a blessing to have a really good group of kids who listens really well and are easy to work with,” Zelaya said. “It feels good to be able to (win the title) this way for my first time being the head coach. I’m really happy for the team and my coaches (Jose Pacheco and Jesus Aguiano). Without them I can’t put this team together.”
East Union (11-0-1, 16-1-3 overall) only needed to tie to have it all to itself. It has turned out to be a one-horse race with Central Catholic helping the Lancers widen their lead with a 5-3 upset of Sierra.
Danny Gomez delivered the cross for Hurtado’s first goal. Hurtado struck again, following up on Cameron Chapman’s initial shot that was set up by another cross from Gomez.
Zelaya inserted the reserves for much of the second half, when Tristen Power registered the lone goal for Kimball (2-9-1, 4-12-1). East Union won more decisively in its first meeting with the Jaguars, 6-0.
“I try not to play my starters a lot but they want to be undefeated,” Zelaya said. His Lancers end the regular season with rivals Sierra and Manteca. “We’ll see how the games go.”
Central Catholic 5, Sierra 3
MODESTO — Eddie Aguilar (penalty kick, second minute), Eriq Kurys (26th minute) and Kevin Mendiola (31st minute) got the Timberwolves rolling early, helping them build a 3-2 halftime lead.
Central Catholic (7-3-1, 9-5-4) responded with three unanswered goals in the second half and avenged a previous 4-2 loss to struggling Sierra (7-4-1, 13-8-2), which was a VOL title contender before going 1-4-1 in its last six matches.
Manteca 6, Lathrop 0
LATHROP — With two matches left to make up, the Buffaloes (5-4-1, 10-7-2) remain in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoff chase after rolling past Lathrop (0-11-1, 4-14-2).
Manteca led 1-0 at halftime thanks to a goal from freshman Brian Cerpas. Aron Navarrette scored twice in the second half, Ramon Rojas contributed two assists, while Everardo Velasquez and Edgar Oropeza each had a goal and an assist. Elvis Jimenez capped the onslaught, as the Buffaloes held a 21-6 advantage in shots. Matsua Garcia-Mendez collected five saves in the shutout.