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Leading Lady Lancers
East Union wins crown in shootout
East Union goalie Taylor Maruca is attacked by her teammates after a splendid job protecting the Lancer goal to secure East Union’s tournament championship Saturday.
East Union goalie Taylor Maruca played solid throughout the Lancers’ action in their three-team tournament Saturday, but her final play proved to loom largest, as the Lancers rode Maruca’s penalty kick goalie-stand to the tourney title in front of the home fans.

East Union (5-2-2) outlasted Ripon 1-0 and held a 1-0 lead over Lincoln of Stockton until the Trojans got on the scoreboard with just five minutes remaining in regulation via a nice open field goal from Leilani Wiernicki. The goal pushed the contest into bonus play, and pushed the Lancers into urgency mode.

“We had talked to the team after the Ripon game,” East Union head coach Jim Todd said. “We beat Ripon, but it was a sloppy game. We really needed to go back to what we’ve been working on, and that is getting possession of the ball and good passing.

“We were able to see those things against Lincoln.”

The Lancers inherited the 1-0 cushion on a gift-wrapped goal from the Trojans. Lincoln’s errant clear out attempt in the first half found the back of the net for the Lancer lead. The two teams played to a scoreless tie until Wiernicki changed the course of direction.

The Lancers dominated the first of two five minute overtime periods, yet they were unable to notch a goal. Lincoln stalled in the second bonus period, sending the game into penalty kicks. Each squad was awarded three shots; the two clubs both went 1 for 3, forcing a one-and-one sudden-death penalty kick phase.

The Lancers were able to get two brilliant shots from Kayla Lamont and Erica Dasilva to keep pace with Lincoln, until Maruca decided the championship would belong to East Union.

“I was just praying to God that one; our “pk” people would make their shots and two; that I could get to at least a few balls and save them,” Maruca said. “I kept thinking go for the corners because I knew that’s where they were going to aim.

“I was guessing where they were going to shoot and thank God I saved that one.”

Maruca not only saved one, she battled to four brilliant saves in a do-or-die atmosphere, assuring the Lancers that they clearly have a reliable keeper in place to protect their season.

“If there was a most valuable player for the day it would have to be Taylor,” Todd said. “The Ripon game she had four phenomenal saves, and then in this game, in overtime, she was just flawless.”

The Lancers got solid play up front from Kayla Lamont, Meagan Howley, Stepahnie Sabala and Ode Castillo, while Reanna Schmitt, Jesika Villegas, and Kianna Lamont proved to be a solid wall for the Lancer defense.

The sophomore Lancers stopped Lincoln in overtime 2-1, securing the title for the program.

East Union will try and use the tournament championship as momentum for a challenging opening to the Valley Oak League season, which includes a trip east to Sonora.

“This tournament has given us some confidence going into Sonora Tuesday,” Maruca said. “They’re a good team, but we’re going to use this momentum and go and do well up there.”