With the Valley Oak League crown within reach, the East Union girls soccer team had its coronation postponed following Wednesday’s 2-2 tie with Kimball on rain-soaked Dino Cunial Field.
The Lancers (11-0-1, 17-1-3) could have clinched the outright championship — their first since 2001 — with a win, but two early goals allowed by their usually-impenetrable back line led to their first “blemish” of the VOL season.”
Down 2-0 by the 20th minute, East Union came from behind with goals from Meghan Wallace and Isela Rivera to salvage a tie.
“It’s probably a good wake-up call for us right before playoffs,” East Union coach Jim Todd said.
East Union has two league matches remaining, but neither are gimmies. First is a road game at Sonora Monday. A tie would be good enough to secure sole possession of the title. The Lancers then finish up at home May 4 against rival Manteca, the VOL’s second-place squad.
Wednesday’s draw hurt Kimball much more than it did East Union. The young and talented Jaguars (4-4-3, 12-5-3) need some help the rest of the way out to sneak into third place and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.
“We let this one slip away and probably the playoffs, too,” Kimball coach Ronald Hattley said. “We’re still in the hunt, but the one point might not help.”
Kimball delivered the first blow in the opening minute. Katie Little fed freshman Taylor Hopkins with a terrific ball up the middle for the goal. And in the 20th minute, Mariah Hinds finished off a cross from Mireya Magana to double the lead.
It was only the second time all season that East Union had given up more than a goal in a single match, and both goals were off Kimball’s first two attempts.
“We tried a different defensive lineup that we never tried before and it bit us,” Todd said.
There were struggles on the attacking third as well, a rarity for such an explosive core of goal scorers. Sophomore striker Isela Rivera had three great 1-on-1 looks set up by younger sister Isabela in the first 12 minutes but poked two of them to Kimball keeper Taylor Lennier (seven saves) and blew another wide right.
During that same stretch, Marissa King rifled a shot from the 18 following a corner kick but bounced it off the crossbar.
East Union didn’t get on board until the 32nd minute when Isela Rivera headed a through pass to Wallace for an easy breakaway. The Lancers outshot Kimball 9-5 in the first half. Led by defensive standout Adaurie Dayak, the Jaguars tightened up defensively in the second half as the two squads played evenly.
Isela Rivera pounded in the tying goal on a penalty kick at the midway point of the second half after Regina Dias was taken down from behind while driving into Kimball’s penalty area.
The Jaguars had the best chance to go ahead late. In the 72nd minute, Magana delivered a perfect cross from the left side, but the open Hopkins was too off balanced near the opposite post to put a solid touch on it.
“We missed some golden opportunities,” Todd said. “We knew this team was good. They’re a club team that plays very well together. We talked about their composure on the field, and defensively they were calm. They were up for this game.”
East Union 2, Kimball 0
Maddie Ysalva and Claudia Arevalo each netted a goal for the Squires. Assists came from Alivia Lemay and Perla Juarez.