Lathrop blanked visiting Ceres for 70 minutes Wednesday and dominated with a balanced attack in a 4-1 Western Athletic Conference win at Bennie Gatto Field.
The Spartans (1-0 WAC, 5-5-1) scored in the first five minutes when Alan Hernandez laid up a free kick to Andres Hurtado-Garcia in front of the goalie, and Hurtado-Garcia blasted it into the net for an early 1-0 lead.
In the closing minutes, Hernandez bounced a shot off the Ceres goalie and stayed with it and was able to boot the rebound past the keeper to wrap up the scoring.
“On the free kick, I really wanted to get it on target because Ceres was really getting chippy,” Hernandez said. “And about the goal, my girlfriend is here and I really wanted to score a goal for her.”
Angel Barajas helped the Spartans to their next two goals. Midway through the first half, he spotted Ociel Mora with a throw-in, and Mora found the net to make the score 2-0. In the 50th minute, Barajas stole a pass deep in the Bulldogs box and quickly scored to put Lathrop up 4-0.
“He (Mora) told me `Quick’ on the throw-in,” Barajas said. “On my goal, we were reading their plays a little bit and I saw him look down so I came in sprinting and took the ball away and scored.”
The Bulldogs (0-1, 2-6-1) got their lone goal in the 70th minute when Luis Flores scored on a breakaway.
“We got a little too relaxed toward the end,” Spartans coach Alfredo Reynaga said. “We weren’t holding the ball to give us numbers on the attacking third. We were trying to penetrate with four defenders on a 2v4, and that is kind of difficult. We weren’t patient enough with the ball. We wanted to keep pushing the ball when we had numbers and we got a little bit out of structure.
“What worked for us early on we kind of got away from for 15 minutes and that hurt us. We had a mistake by the goal keeper but after that we tried to get back into controlling the tempo of the game but it took a little bit to get back into it.”
Josue Navarro posted four saves for Lathrop.
The Spartans host Pacheco on Friday at 6:15 p.m.
Lathrop 1, Ceres 0
Patrick Martinez broke a scoreless tie late in the game and scored the lone goal of the contest with an unassisted effort for the Spartans.