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Oakdale pads cushion as EU falls in title race
Lancer Kianna Lamont (1) leads the Lady Lancer defensive unit in protecting their goal Wednesday during VOL action. - photo by HIME ROMERO
If it wasn’t for bad luck, the East Union Lancers wouldn’t have any.

Oakdale used a goal in the closing seconds of the first half and another in the second half’s opening minutes to hit the Lancers with a 2-0 Valley Oak League defeat Wednesday at Dino Cunial Field.

East Union opened the contest on the attack, dictating the game’s opening flow and controlling the possessions deep into Oakdale’s zone. That make-up would switch about the game’s 12th minute, and the Mustangs would turn to the aggressor.

With a scoreless first half seeming imminent, the Mustangs decide to make use of their final 30 seconds. East Union battled at midfield for possession, only to see Oakdale gain possession and a direct path to the goal. Markie Arnold stayed wide right and then let the game’s deciding kick scream down past a diving Ashley Almeida into the far-left corner of the netting.

Unfortunately for East Union, that would be all Oakdale would need. Nonetheless, the Mustangs dealt what would be the final blow when a shot on goal was miraculously stopped by a pair of Lancers backing up their goalie, was rebounded and pounded home for the sealer.

“They are powerful,” East Union head coach Jim Todd said. “They are a strong program; they’re kind of like a club team that’s playing high school. They know how one another thinks. But the girls played pretty good, we just couldn’t connect on goal.

“We took a lot of weak shots.”

The Lancers (6-2-3 VOL, 13-4-3 overall) were especially able to get some looks late, but Oakdale’s stifling defense  left East Union with long shots, usually coming under duress. East Union’s Isela Rivera was obviously targeted, drawing the attention of two to three Mustangs with each touch.

“We took that No. 3 (Rivera) out of the game,” Oakdale head coach Alfredo Quiroga said. “We took her totally out of the game, she was not a factor.  She was one of the players that hurt us in the first meeting.

“She has great ball handling skills and the first time we didn’t have the legs to keep up with her.”

East Union will have minimal opportunities remaining to try and establish some separation from the second-tier of the VOL teams. Oakdale sits alone atop the standings, with Sierra, Kimball and the Lancers all resting a couple of points from within each other.

Only three playoff berths will be awarded to the VOL, leaving one of the four programs on the outside looking in at the postseason. The Lancers will get their best shot at applying some separation Wednesday when they travel to Tracy to meet up with Kimball. The contest is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start time.