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Oakdale makes early statement at Sierra
Feuerstein completes hat trick with go-ahead score in 78th minute
Sierra High striker Joanna Ortiz is knocked off balance while Oakdale defender Katie Odom steals it away in the Valley Oak League opener for both squads Wednesday at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
It came down to the final minutes, but the tone was set at the start of the Sierra High girls soccer team’s 3-2 loss to visiting Oakdale in the Valley Oak League opener Wednesday.

Joanna Ortiz was set up with a great opportunity in the match’s opening minute after freshman Sydnee Canales intercepted a pass at midfield and launched a perfect through ball to Sierra’s talented striker.

Oakdale keeper Morgan Kinyon charged at Ortiz, whose shot curled a couple feet wide of the upper 90.

It was the beginning of a frustrating night for Ortiz, who had several chances thwarted either by Kinyon, Oakdale’s physical defense or her own over-anxiousness.

Unbeaten Oakdale (1-0, 8-0-2 overall), on the other hand, made good on its first two attempts.

Kerri Feuerstein scored off crosses from Jenna Michaeletti and Hailey Turney in the 4th and 8th minutes to help the Mustangs take a commanding 2-0 lead into halftime.

“That was a great opportunity right there, and you’re not going to get a whole bunch against a team like this,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “We just couldn’t put them away all night and it killed us. Oakdale turned around and converted their first two shots. That’s how these games can have you at top of the mountain then falling to the bottom of the valley real quick, and it took us a long to recover.”

Sierra valiantly came back to tie it late, but Feuerstein would punch in the go-ahead goal and complete her hat trick in the 78th minute following a controversial handball penalty called against Sierra.

Midfielder Ashley Sohal was in on both of Sierra’s scoring plays. In the 52nd minute, she found Diana Alfaro streaking down the right side for a breakaway. Alfaro carried it into the penalty box and crossed it to Stephanie Vanni, who deflected it in.

And in the 76th minute, Alfaro was set up by a lobbed through ball Sohal right up the middle for an easy 1-on-1.

“We are not playing consistently well for a full 80 minutes,” said Oakdale coach Alfredo Quiroga. “We came out swinging and took it to them with those two goals, but we felt like we had it. We thought we were the better team and it took it easy. That betrayed us.”

It nearly did.

While Oakdale had a few chances to extend its lead, Sierra was in control for the better part of the second half.

Before Feurestein’s game-winning goal, a Sierra player was called for a handball near midfield. The ball was sent into Sierra’s box on the free kick, and Sara Siemsen was the first to take a shot.

Lia Unterholzner batted it away for one of her five second-half saves, but Feurestein was there for the rebound.

“The call is what it is,” Pires said. “I don’t know what (the officials) saw, but we have to be able to get the ball out of the back. Lia did a good job of getting the initial block, and someone needs to be there to clear it.

“I give Oakdale credit, they put their chances away. But I thought we had more chances in front of the goal, we just couldn’t hit it right.”

The win for Oakdale is its second straight against the defending VOL champion. Last year, the Mustangs pulled out a 3-1 victory on April 20 at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium, and it was the first time they ever defeated Sierra.

Things don’t get any easier for the Timberwolves, who next face crosstown foe Manteca High March 23 before squaring off with East Union and Kimball. Their next three opponents all have winning records.

“This is huge for Oakdale to come here and beat us, but for us to be able to bounce back we’ll have to fix some things. The good thing is that there are 13 matches left to be played. This league is very, very wide open this year.”