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Manteca tallies record 20th win in blowout
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Manteca High’s girls soccer team padded its program-record setting goal total Tuesday and set another new standard with a 7-0 victory over Vallejo.

The Buffaloes (20-4-1), seeded third going into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener, hit the 20-win mark for the first time but are not ready to celebrate yet. They are three wins away from their first section championship. Manteca has advanced to three section finals (2004, 05, 14) and lost to Christian Brothers 1-0 in last year’s Division III title match.

“I think we’re peaking and that’s good,” Manteca striker Leah Manuleleua said. “We want to go far. Whoever our next opponent is we want to continue playing well against them.”

Unfortunately, for the Buffs, that next opponent won’t be No. 6 Christian Brothers, which was upset by 11th-seeded Pioneer 3-2 on Tuesday. Pioneer (11-6-3) visits Manteca’s Guss Schmiedt Field on Thursday.

“That was the worst game of my life and I wanted to redeem myself against them,” Manuelelua said.

Manuleleua, only a junior, is Manteca’s single-season (38) and career (71) record holder for goals scored. She added three more on Tuesday including an assist, doing it all by the 23-minute mark.

No. 14 Vallejo (6-4-1) appeared outmatched from the start.

Samantha Klump got the Buffaloes rolling in the second minute, finishing a well put-together run she started herself. Klump centered the ball to the fleet-footed Lejla Pepic, who then pushed it ahead to a streaking Manuleleua. Manuleleua crossed it from the left side of the penalty box, and Klump sprinted to the opposite post to touch it in.

Pepic was in on four assists, including two to Manuelelua on well-timed through balls against the Red Hawks’ offside trap. Natalia Duran, Alexa Mayen and Jocelyn Reyes also scored for Manteca, which buried six goals on its first seven shots on frame.

“We didn’t know anything about them, so we just wanted to do what we could control,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “We wanted to focus on possession, we didn’t want to just play through balls. We wanted to build up our attack and move the ball around. We were able to do that.”

Coenenberg added that it was important for his team to come away injury free. Check.

Manteca’s starters sat out the final 10-15 minutes of the first half and led 6-0 by the break. Goalie Alyssa Burch (four saves) was the only Buffalo starter on the field over the final 20 minutes of the game.

Burch preserved the shutout with two nice diving saves in the first half, thwarting direct-kick opportunities by Jisell Diaz and Alicia Perez.