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Buffs suffer semifinal heartbreaker
MON top soccer one
Mantecas Sandra De La Riva tries to pull away from Emily Ferrelof St. Marys in a 1-0 win for the Rams. - photo by DAVE CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

 Manteca bounced back from a 1-0 heartbreaking semifinal loss to St. Mary’s and finished third in the Buff Cup with a 2-1 win over Gregori of Modesto at Guss Schmiedt Field on Saturday.

Lejla Pepic got Manteca (5-1) on the board quickly with an unassisted goal at the five-minute mark. Five minutes later Josie Reyes headed in a corner kick from Alexa Mayen for a 2-0 Buffaloes lead.

“We came out the first 15 minutes and we were definitely the aggressors,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “We were able to possess the ball and create scoring opportunities – we scored on two of them. The last 15 minutes of the half our intensity level dropped and they probably dominated possession the last 15 minutes.”

The Jaguars scored at the mid-point of the 30-minute first half.  

“At halftime we talked about wanting to finish strong in the second half and we did. We were able to dominate possession and create scoring opportunities but we are not putting ourselves in position to finish the ball.

“We were able to attack down the sides, getting great crosses in, but we are not getting our numbers in the box.”

Against St. Mary’s the two teams battled relentlessly until the Rams snuck a goal through in the final minute of the game for the 1-0 win.

“The St. Mary’s game was back and forth and pretty evenly matched,” Coenenberg said. “They scored with a minute left.

“The ball slipped through a defender’s leg and because of that the goalie kind of got a late reaction to it. She dove for it but didn’t quite get to it.”

Caitlin McVeigh had five saves for the Buffaloes against the Rams, three of which were of highlight-reel quality.

“She had a heck of a game, she really did,” Coenenberg said of McVeigh. “It is her first year on varsity. She is undersized but she is fearless. She comes out, she is aggressive and she is progressing.”

Manteca opened the tournament Friday with a 7-2 thumping of Argonaut of Jackson. 

Mayen had two goals and an assist against the Mustangs. Pepic added a goal and two assists, Sarah Vegas, Kaitlynn Funsch and Reyes each had a goal with Natalia Duran adding two assists and Madison Burch one to round out the Buffaloes attack.

“I thought we played really well against Argonaut,” Coenenberg said. “We had a lot of assists and that is always a good thing because it means we are scoring off of our attack.

“We were able to build an attack, get balls played into our scorers and they did a great job of finishing. We were able to dominate possession as well – I thought we were able to dominate possession this whole tournament.”