Lathrop High and visiting East Union Monday were locked in another tough Valley Oak League battle.
Much like the first go-around, the outcome was the same, with both teams again battling to a 2-2 draw.
For the second-place Lancers (8-1-2 VOL, 16-4-3), the tie put them four points behind league-leading Sierra. At the same time, they officially clinched a playoff berth, according to coach Ronnie Green.
“Obviously, we would have preferred the win,” he said.
The Spartans (2-6-3 VOL, 5-10-4) showed that they’re a better team than what their record might indicate.
“We dominated the tempo in the second half,” said Lathrop coach Alfredo Reynaga.
The Spartans had a two-minute stretch in the second half in which they went up 2-1.
In the 51st minute, senior midfielder Juan Luna emerged from the scramble following a corner kick, tying the game at 1-1.
A minute later, Lathrop was back on the attack. Junior forward Logan Gazaway, who was shoved from behind earlier to help set up the first goal, scored as a result of another corner kick.
The Lancers scored in the first half, Oscar Soto lobbing up a nicely placed ball to Jacob Garcia, who broke up a scoreless contest by converting on a header.
Earlier, Tyler Soulier’s apparent goal was waived.
Soto, however, came through in the 60th minute, taking a pass from Miguel Chavez.
He also collided with Lathrop goalie Will Smith. Both players were forced to the sideline.
Smith, who had nine saves, returned to his position about a minute or two later. “We called him a beast,” Reynaga said.
Lathrop had a golden opportunity in the 68th minute. Chavez was one-on-one with East Union goalie Trent Rivera, who made a tremendous stop on the penalty kick attempt.
Rivera also had nine saves.
The Lancers were on attack mode late in the game only to get the ball cleared out twice by likes of defenders Christian Bedolla and Ronaldo Macias.
Lathrop had one last try in closing seconds. But the East Union defense held off the threat.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.