After opening the Sierra High Vern Gebhardt Champions Cup with a one-sided 7-0 victory over Mesa Verde, Sierra had battled with Linden for a 0-0 tie, securing the top spot in Pool “A” play and setting up a match with Pool “C” winner Beyer High.
Sierra displayed glimpses of a team that will likely be on the offensive end’s attack, constantly applying pressure with freshman Alexis Young and sophomore Naomi Nunis. The Timberwolves showed no difficulties getting into Linden’s firing zone, but taking advantage of those opportunities proved to be another story.
“On offense, when we are on the attacking third our final touches and decision making around the goal is not there yet,” Sierra head coach Manuel Pires said. “It is going to take a little time, but I hope we get it together real soon because we need to score more goals.”
Sierra gave Linden keeper Laura Torres 60 minutes of action, getting off seven shots on goal and forcing Torres to post five saves. Sierra didn’t let up in the second half and Torres was still able to meet all challenges. In the matches’ final 10 minutes play picked up and Sierra goalie Lia Unterholzner had to match Torres’ effort. The pair combined for four saves in the final four minutes.
“I was very pleased with her; she is only a sophomore,” Linden head coach Gabe Padilla said of his goalie. “She is just going in confident everyday, and when the team gets behind her she rises to the challenge every time. She played her tail off against arguably the best program in the section over the past five to 10 years.
“I mean, we’re a (Division-V) school, playing against champions from last year; I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Showtime comes immediately for the Timberwolves once the Valley Oak League schedule gets underway with a trip to Oakdale Wednesday. The areas of Sierra’s deficiencies are really close to working themselves out, it will all be decided by the steps the youthful Timberwolves take in the tournament’s final action.
“Alexis is a freshman, Naomi is a sophomore, so we are very young up there,” Pires said. “We also have another sophomore (Jessica Cueca) up there. So as a group they are going to have to grow pretty fast.”
Lathrop High took advantage of a 1-0 forfeit victory over Turlock before falling to Beyer 4-0. The Spartans will be back on the pitch against VOL counterpart Oakdale at noon.
Sierra will meet with Beyer High at 10:45 a.m. with a spot in the tournament’s championship at stake.