It all comes down to Wednesday’s winner-take-all Valley Oak League finale between cross-town foes Manteca and East Union.
Both are in contention for the VOL’s third and last available Sac-Joaquin Section berth after wins on Monday. Manteca did its part in an 8-0 thrashing of Lathrop on senior night.
The Buffaloes (8-4-1 VOL, 13-5-2 overall) nearly upset first-place Weston Ranch in a 3-2 defeat last week and continued their strong play Monday against the always-dangerous Spartans (3-9-1, 10-13-2).
“I was not sure how they’d respond coming off the loss to Weston Ranch,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “That one hurt because they really wanted that one bad. These guys understand that they needed to play with a sense of urgency tonight. We couldn’t look past a team like Lathrop because they’ve played us tight in the past. We need to win out this week and tonight was a good start.”
Marcus Montano scored in the 25th minute before Manteca exploded for seven goals in the second half. Montano finished with three assists, while Kevin Rodriguez amassed four goals. Jason Maravilla added two goals and two assists. Carlos Belmonte cashed in on a penalty kick late in the contest.
Jose Zamarripa recorded six saves and played the majority of the match at goalie before making way to Eduardo Aguilar (three saves).
Manteca heads to East Union for the big regular-season finale Wednesday.
Weston Ranch 2,
In Stockton, the Cougars (13-0, 20-2-3) once again worked their late-game magic to seize an outright claim to the program’s first-ever VOL championship.
Kevin Medina buried a free kick to push Weston Ranch ahead for good on the game’s final play. Francisco Garcia converted a penalty kick to give the Ranch a 1-0 halftime lead. Jose Becerra booted the tying score for second-place Oakdale (10-3, 15-5-3).
Last Wednesday, Weston Ranch climbed out of a 2-0 hole at Manteca and came up with the tying and winning goals in the final four minutes of the match.
“You just can’t script something like that,” Weston Ranch coach Francisco Cisneros said. “It’s unbelievable what these guys are doing. I told the guys after the game to enjoy this one because we may never be 13-0 again. You have to work hard every game but also get some bounces here and there to go your way for that to happen in this league.”
Weston Ranch hosts Sierra in its final regular-season contest but will be down two starters because of yellow-card accumulations.
East Union 2, Kimball 1
In Tracy, the Lancers (8-4-1, 10-4-2) needed late second-half goals from Victor Hurtado (65th minute) and Lino Cerda (68th) to complete a hard-earned come-from-behind victory. Cerda scored the game-winner with a free kick from about 10 yards behind the penalty box.
It’s a surprising result considering East Union previously downed the Jaguars (1-8-4, 2-14-5), 11-0. Kimball led 1-0 at halftime.
“I think the boys were thinking more about the Manteca game than Kimball today,” East Union coach Victor Polanco said. “They (Kimball) pretty much dominated the entire first half.”
Joe Modesto and Bryce Lew combined for eight saves.
Central Catholic 0
In Modesto, the Timberwolves (4-7-2, 8-14-13) prevailed behind goals from Justin Ruiz and Zimri Rico. Central Catholic remains winless on the season.
Lathrop 3, Manteca 1
Jefry Raudales and Alexis Palomares accounted for Lathrop’s scoring.