STOCKTON — Weston Ranch managed a goal 12 minutes into the second half and kept visiting Woodland out of the net to escape the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs with a 1-0 win Thursday night.
“It was a tough game,” Cougars coach Francisco Cisneros said. “Once we get in the playoffs every game is going to be tough. We kind of rushed the ball early in the first half and made some mistakes we don’t normally make.
“But by the second half we had kind of tired them out. It didn’t show on the scoreboard, but we did make them work.”
In the 52nd minute Hector Maldonado slipped the ball to Joseph Mayorca, who was in the center of the field about 30 yards out. Mayorca split a pair of Woodland defenders and got the ball past the charging Wolves goalie.
“It was a difficult game,” Mayorca said. “That was a great assist by Hector Maldonado off of a pass by Arthur Garcia. The way I was positioned and the way the goalie was I was able to score past him on the right side. I had an open opportunity and I just shot it.”
On a night where good looks were hard to come by for either team, five minutes before he scored Mayorca fired a 35-yard bullet that skidded off the top of the crossbar.
Three minutes into the game the Cougars’ Kevin Medina had a great look in the when he arced one in from the right side over the Woodland goalie that bounced off of the inside of the post and back into the field of play.
One of the reason that the Wolves (9-6-3) only had five shots was the outstanding defensive play of Weston Ranch (22-2-3) spearheaded by defender Victor Munoz who repeatedly repelled Woodland attacks.
“I think we did a great job,” Munoz said. “They were attacking a lot.”
One Wolves charge almost made it through in the 75th minute. The ball bounced past Munoz and the Woodland player, Munoz and goalie Andy Martinez all collapsed on the ball at the same time, about 20 yards in front of the net. After a brief but intense scrum Martinez fell on the ball inside the 18-yard line, stopping the biggest Woodland threat of the second half.
“The ball we were playing with was a little slippery and at times too fast to read,” Martinez said. “There was some miscommunication on that play so my instinct was to come out and stop it no matter what.”
The Cougars host Natomas in a semifinal match on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.