East Union needed just 15 seconds to test Sierra freshman goalkeeper Michaela Bitle, who was filling in for ailing starter Callie Crain (shoulder) in Tuesday’s Valley Oak League match at Dino Cunial Field.
Britney Moneyhun broke free from the right side just moments following the opening kickoff and unleashed a powerful strike that just missed the left post. It was a sign of things to come for the upset-minded Lancers, who outlasted their talented rival, 3-2.
“You can tell even in warm-ups that everybody was excited and ready to go,” East Union coach Rileigh Mankin said. “Everybody gets hyped for the cross-town home games, for sure.”
For Sierra (5-1 VOL, 14-2 overall), it was its second rivalry showdown in as many nights. On Monday, the Timberwolves notched a hard-earned 2-0 victory over Manteca.
The Lancers did appear to be the fresher team from the outset, and Sierra could not keep up after the two teams combined to score four goals during a 10-minute flurry in the second half.
“We just kept fighting and fighting,” East Union midfielder Rosalia Ravelo said. “No matter what, we were going to keep going until the end. It feels amazing. I’m really proud of our team.”
It was scoreless by the midway point, but East Union (4-2-1, 8-3-1) controlled much of the action. Ravelo netted the first two goals in the 47th and 54th minutes, putting a halt to the Timberwolves’ string of five straight shutouts. The last time they gave up a goal was in an 8-1 win over Kimball in their VOL opener back on Dec. 15.
Skylar Treacy helped set up Ravelo’s first goal. Her shot from the side was blocked by Bitle, who was unable to fully control the ball before Ravelo knocked it in. Bitle (six saves) and the Timberwolves pleaded to the nearest official that she still had possession of the ball.
“I thought our goalie had it,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “She had both hands on it, it slipped out and she put another hand back on it. Most referees are going to call it dead but they didn’t. That’s the way it goes.”
Ravelo doubled the lead with a no-doubter, launching a mid-range shot that nailed the upper-right corner well beyond Bitle’s reach.
Sierra was quick to answer. Not even a full minute later, Kyndra Kiser got the Timberwolves on the board after blowing her attempt past Lancers goalie Isabella Cruz (two saves)
“Being up 2-0, that’s the most dangerous lead you can have in soccer,” Mankin said. “I was nervous but they responded well. Sierra does a great job of scoring in the last few minutes of halves and we talked about that before the game. It’s not over until that whistle blows.”
Undeterred, East Union got a much-needed insurance goal two minutes later when Ilena deflected in Britney Moneyhun’s corner-kick cross.
Mankin said her team focused its defensive efforts on midfielder Kaleigh Doyle and standout strike Jadyn Shinn. The Lancers managed to shut them out until the final minute, when Shinn netted her 26th goal of the season after Doyle delivered a short pass into the penalty box. Shinn is ranked third in the Sac-Joaquin Section in goals scored.
“We didn’t make the plays that we needed to,” Pires said. “Our passing game was way off, and defensively we were a little bit off. It was not the way I wanted to see these girls play. For some reason, things just weren’t clicking for us today.”
East Union 5, Sierra 0
The Lancers (4-0-1, 7-2-2) continued their tear through the VOL, getting two goals from Natasha Honore and one apiece from Taylor Campbell, Jasmin Mejia and Jennae Ramirez.