Perhaps the smallest player on the field came up the biggest Friday night.
And standout Sammy Morris was there to put the icing on the cake.
Manteca freshman Katie Locke, along with the senior Morris, each netted goals for the Buffaloes during a 2-1 victory over visiting Sonora in the 3rd Annual ‘Kicking for a Cure’ game at Guss Schmiedt Field.
“Katie is our little spark plug on the team,” Manteca head coach Justin Coenenberg said. “I think some players see her size and think ‘oh, this girl is little’, but she is just a rock and plays extremely hard. Every time I put her on the field I know I’m going to get 100 percent.
“(Morris) did a great job of attacking the goal and creating some opportunities for both herself and other people.”
The senior forward recorded 12 of Manteca’s 32 total shots, including an insurance goal that created a two-goal cushion for the Buffaloes (7-3-1 Valley Oak League, 15-5-1 overall).
Sonora (4-6 VOL) scored its only goal of the contest in the 77th minute. Up until that point, the visitors had only managed four shots the entire match against Manteca’s stingy defense.
Baylee Johnson scored the Wildcats’ only goal to make up the final score, indicating the contest was a lot closer than it was.
“We didn’t posses the ball the way we really wanted to,” Coenenberg added. “We had some opportunities, but we just didn’t put the ball in back of the net. We very easily could have scored three or four more goals.
“Sonora is a good, solid team, so I was happy with our performance.”
The Wildcats didn’t record their first shot attempt until the 20th minute. Manteca outshot its opponent 15-3 in the first half, 32-5 overall.
“There was a lot going and that can be overwhelming,” Coenenberg said. “I wanted to make sure the girls were focused on getting the win first and foremost.”
Manteca set the tempo early as it tallied two shots on goal during the first five minutes.
In the seventh minute, Manteca’s Adaze Nkwocha and Leah Manuleleua worked a beautiful give-and-go while driving to the net. Manuleleua gave it to Nkwocha, who dished the ball right back. Manuleleua then worked her way to the left side of the front of the net and fired, which was blocked by Sonora goalie Becky Bayer.
However, Locke worked her way toward the front of the cage as well and poked the deflection back in for the one-goal lead. Locke, Morris, Nkwocha and Esmerelda Cuenca accounted for most of Manteca’s total shots on goal. Bayer finished with 23 saves for a shorthanded Sonora squad.
Cuenca finished with three near-scoring opportunities and was distributing the ball well. Defensively, Manteca senior Samantha Grieman had a stellar performance and prevented several Sonora scoring opportunities from developing.
“It was an honor and a privilege to participate in this (Kicking for a Cure) game,” Sonora head coach Denyse Garcia McLaughlin said. “Hope we gave everyone a good show. Manteca is such a good team and (Coenenberg) is a class act.”
The Buffaloes’ next ballgame will be at Lathrop on Tuesday at 4 p.m.