STOCKTON — Non-existent in the first half Monday, Joseph Mayorca erupted for three goals in the second to spearhead Weston Ranch’s 3-1 win over East Union that keeps the Cougars on the heels of Valley Oak League-leading Oakdale.
“He was amazing tonight,” Weston Ranch coach Francisco Cisneros said. “There’s a reason why he’s our captain and our leader.”
There’s a reason why he’s the league’s reigning MVP. His 24 goals trail only Sierra forward Eddie Aguilar’s 29.
“It was difficult because they know how I play already; they had three or four guys on me,” Mayorca said. “I just had to stay patient because I knew that if I can get into open spaces my teammates will eventually find me.”
There was plenty of space for Mayorca and the Cougars (7-1-1 VOL, 16-3-2 overall) over the final 28 minutes thanks to two red-card ejections to East Union players. Eric Flores was booked in the 52nd minute after getting tangled up with Weston Ranch’s Alex Gonzalez in the goal area following a corner kick.
The Lancers (5-3-1, 7-3-1) were able to preserve their one-goal lead until Alejandro Sanchez was issued a red card for a dangerous tackle on goalie Eduardo Acosta as the two sprinted for a 50-50 ball.
“The officials, they do their job and I have to do my job,” East Union coach Victor Polanco said. “If they think that’s what it is that’s the way it goes. It hurt a lot playing with two guys short.”
That was the Cougars’ cue to pounce. Mayorca scored on counter-attacking runs in the 62nd and 65th minutes on assists from Kevin Medina and Esteban Paramo. He then delivered the insurance goal in the 71st minute after stealing a goal kick.
Cisneros was glad to see his team take advantage of the short-handed Lancers in the second half. On Oct. 5, Sierra was able to salvage a 3-3 tie at Weston Ranch despite being a man down. Mayorca was serving a one-game suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards that night.
“When we have the man (advantage) we absolutely have to finish,” Cisneros said. “Last week against Sierra we had a man up and we had the lead and we let them get back in the game and tie it.
“It was a good lesson for our team and they responded well in the second half. I’m proud of the way they played in the second half and kept their cool.”
Things got chippy in the rematch between the two contending teams. In their last meeting, a 2-1 win for Weston Ranch, they combined for 10 yellow cards. There were eight bookings and 20 bookings on Monday.
The final 30 minutes was a complete reversal of the first 30. East Union came out as the aggressor from the start and jumped ahead on Alex Velasquez’s goal in the 11th minute. By the 20-minute mark, the Lancers had outshot Weston Ranch 6-0 and had a 3-0 edge on corner kicks. The Cougars were held to just two shots, both on frame but from long distances, in the opening half.
“The first 30 minutes we played pretty good,” Polanco said. “We started to play kick ball a little bit, but I thought we pretty much dominated the first half. We just have to play all the way through.”
Oakdale 5, Lathrop 0
LATHROP — The season-long woes continued for the struggling Spartans (0-9, 0-15) as five different Oakdale players scored. Zach Barnum had a goal and two assists for the Mustangs (7-0-2, 14-2-4).