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EU fails to clinch VOL title
Manteca High’s Giovanni Marin is carried off the field after scoring the game’s final goal in Manteca’s VOL championship spoiling win over East Union High. - photo by HIME ROMERO
A one-goal loss Monday eliminated the Manteca Buffaloes from the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoff picture, but that did not stop the Buffaloes from crashing East Union High’s Valley Oak League championship hopes, stopping the Lancers 5-3 to close out the 2010 regular season.

East Union (10-4 VOL, 12-6-2) seemed well on its way to earning its first league championship in over 15 years with a quick 2-0 lead, but the lead would not last as Manteca answered with two goals late in the first half for a 2-2 tie.

The Lancers had 40 minutes to chase a league title, while Manteca simply had that time remaining in its season. Manteca played poised and under control in the second-half, whereas East Union could not find a way to fend off the pressure.

“This game was really important to us,” East Union captain Cruz Hernandez said. “The last time we won VOL was 17 years ago, so we wanted it bad.

“It just looked like they wanted it more.”

Manteca changed its direction in the 27th minute when Alex Barragan gathered in a loose ball as the Lancer keeper raced out to the ball only to see it bounce over his left shoulder on a nice play by Barragan. The score got Manteca on the board, but sparked a group that entered the contest with nothing to lose.

“I was pretty fired up with the way we came,” Manteca head coach Justin Coenenberg said. “Actually, the last few games I have seen 15 minutes here or 20 minutes there, where we’re really starting to come together as a team.

“It’s bitter sweet in a way, because I’m sad the season’s come to an end, but it’s a good way to send our seniors off with a win.”

The Lancers have not been able to finish as VOL champions since the ’93 season, which was the final year of back-to-back-to-back league titles. The Lancers controlled their own destiny coming into the match, needing the elusive win for an outright VOL championship.

The loss gift-wrapped the Sierra Timberwolves’ first league crown since the 2006 season, but does end East Union’s season. The Lancers will open SJS postseason play as the VOL’s No. 2 seed, but falling to the Buffaloes does strip East Union of a first-round home game. East Union will likely travel to Sierra Valley League No. 2 seed Galt High.

Galt (9-0-3 SVL) was the league runner-up to Vista del Lago and have not been defeated at all this season. The Warriors’ three ties cost them a league title, so the Lancers undoubtedly will have a challenge waiting on them in the second season.

“It is going to be difficult to do because of the stiff competition we’ll play and we’re still playing with injuries,” East Union co-head coach Allan Green said of the Lancers chances of bouncing back after the loss. “We have two or three guys out there hobbling around now, we have a few guys who are just sitting on the bench, and there all starters.

“When you lose half of your starters, there’s not much you can do.”

East Union 3, Manteca 2
The Lancers were able to close out their impressive season with a solid performance in a win over the Buffaloes.

The Lancers (14-0-2) got a pair of goals from Derrick Sosa to end the season as the undefeated VOL champions.

“I knew early on this was a special team,” East Union head coach Victor Polanco said. “We were working hard to win the league championship. Last year we finished in second place, so this year our goal was to finish in first place.”