By JONAMAR JACINTO
Those pesky Spartans are at it again.
Lathrop High’s boys soccer team appears to be on track after a rough first half of the Valley Oak League season. Tuesday’s 2-1 upset of first-place Oakdale serves as a reminder to the rest of the contenders that this club is one to not be overlooked.
Lathrop (2-4-3 VOL, 8-7-3 overall) had some say last season when it dealt blows to eventual co-champions Manteca and Sierra.
“This is a huge win for us,” Lathrop coach Lenny Lial said. “We’re trying to be relevant in this league and we want to move up the standings.”
Drew Irwin and Felipe Gomez each scored in the middle of the first half to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead. It wasn’t until the final five minutes of the match that Oakdale (7-1-1, 12-4-4) answered, capitalizing on a penalty kick granted by a handball violation in the penalty box.
Jumping ahead early was key for Lathrop, but keeping it scoreless before Irwin’s goal in the 18th minute was imperative. Enter goalie Eric DeLeon, who made the play that set the tone for the Spartans. Oakdale had the match’s first good look at scoring, but a strong head shot was stuffed by DeLeon (7 saves).
“When (Oakdale) gets the lead they build on that lead, so that (save) really kept us in the game,” said Lial, who also praised wing defenders Julio Mayorga and Jonathan Mendoza.
W. Ranch 2, E. Union 0
Hector Maldonado scored two first-half goals for Weston Ranch (4-4-1, 12-5-2 overall), which picked up ground on the top three teams of the VOL.
Arthur Garcia assisted the first goal, and Maldonado buried a penalty kick for his second score.
East Union fell to 3-6 in league, 3-9-2 overall.