Lathrop High’s boys soccer team gave Manteca all it could handle on senior night Wednesday.
Freshman Marcus Montano scored the game’s only goal midway through the second half, and goalkeeper Brandon Diaz came up with huge saves to preserve a 1-0 victory for Manteca.
“We probably out-possessed them, but not by much,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “In the last 10 minutes they were able to get some pretty legit shots off, but Brandon came up big for us at the end.”
Diaz finished with eight saves, and both squads were even on shot attempts with 17 apiece. Giovanni Marin assisted Montano’s goal with a cross from the right side.
Win, lose or draw, the Buffaloes (8-2-2 Valley Oak League, 12-4-3 overall) would have clinched their first Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoff berth since 2007 when they last captured a conference title.
All three Manteca schools are in the postseason, with third-place Sierra eliminating fourth-place Sonora from contention Wednesday.
Things are still left unsettled at the top.
With two games to go, East Union remains in position to earn its first league championship since the 1992-93 winter season, but Manteca trails by only three points. Sierra is a long shot to successfully defend its 2010 crown but can still leapfrog the Buffaloes for the second playoff seed.
Manteca hosts Oakdale Monday before heading to EU next Wednesday, Oct. 26.
“Oakdale beat us pretty good last time (3-0), and East Union is going to obviously be tough,” Coenenberg said. “We have our work cut out for us, that’s for sure.”
East Union 3, Kimball 0
In Tracy, the Lancers (9-1-2, 11-7-2) broke a scoreless halftime tie with a goal-scoring onslaught over the final 40 minutes.
Jordan Kron had a goal and an assist, and Cruz Hernandez and Victor Garibay each scored.
East Union closes the regular season with Sonora and Manteca both at home next week.
Sierra 2, Sonora 1
Host Sonora was in the playoff hunt by halftime, but Nico Gonzalez and Amir Guedior each scored to give Sierra (7-2-3, 13-4-3) a two-goal lead. Sonora didn’t strike until the final minute off an indirect kick.
“We had some good looks, we just could not put it in,” Sierra coach Jose Montes said. “But I liked the way we played — we possessed the ball well and kept it away from Sonora.”
Sierra hosts Lathrop and Weston Ranch next week.
Oakdale 3, Weston Ranch 2
Senior standout David Molina scored twice for the host Cougars (2-10), who were down 3-0.
Weston Ranch 3, Oakdale 1
The Cougars (5-6-1) struck early and often starting with Raul Martinez’s goal off a pass from Francisco Monroy in the seventh minute.
Monroy then struck in the 30th minute, and William Giron, who assisted Monroy’s goal, made it 3-0 just five minutes later off a feed from Yazen Saleh.