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ROUNDUP: Miller again the difference for Manteca girls soccer
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Manteca High girls soccer coach Justin Coenenberg played it safe with his top player Kaley Miller, who missed all seven of the Buffaloes’ pre-league contests to recover from a strained groin.
“She wasn’t excited about it but it was the right thing to do,” Coenenberg said.
They’re reaping the benefits now.
The fleet forward accounted for Manteca’s lone goal for a third straight match in a 1-0 win over visiting Kimball on Wednesday, putting her speed and hustle to good use on the deciding play. The victory was much needed for the Buffaloes (2-0-1, 4-3-3 overall) as they jockey for early positioning in the battle for four postseason spots in the Valley Oak League.
Miller is picking up where she left off from a sophomore campaign in which she accumulated 34 goals and 13 assists.
“She makes a huge difference, not just with scoring but with leadership,” Coenenberg said. “She’s one of our captains. I wouldn’t consider her a vocal leader but she motivates other players by how hard she works. It’s huge having her back, especially because we are really young this year.”
Her hard work was enough for Manteca to overcome Kimball (1-2, 4-6-1). Midway through the second half, she pressured a Jaguars defender into playing a softly-touched negative ball to the keeper. Miller and the goalie raced to the free ball that wound up bouncing favorably for Miller to target the open net.
On the other end of the field, sophomore goalie Willow Stearns came up with eight saves for Manteca.
It was an even, physical battle that Coenenberg hopes improves his improving squad that includes four juniors, 16 underclassmen and no seniors.
“There were quite a few fouls and a few yellow cards,” he said. “Our younger players are getting a good taste of VOL soccer and how physical and competitive it is.”
Manteca gets another test on Dec. 28 when it travels to Ripon to face the reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champion.

Sierra 7, Oakdale 1
OAKDALE — Jadyn Shinn racked up two goals and three assists as Sierra (2-0 VOL, 14-2-1 overall) rolls into winter break on a high note. The Timberwolves won’t play another match until Jan. 2 against visiting rival Manteca.
Tiana Cello tallied two goals, Callie Crain assisted two and scored one, and Nicole Martin and Annalise Paule contributed a goal apiece. Goalie Michaela Bitle finished with five saves.
Oakdale (0-3, 4-6-1) registered its lone goal in the opening half but trailed 3-1 at the break.

Beyer 6, Lathrop 1
MODESTO — Beyer (4-0, 8-1 overall) has separated itself as the team to beat in the made-over Western Athletic Conference. 
Lathrop (2-2, 3-4-1) caught the Patriots’ attention early on, however. Kassandra Ceja — the 2016-17 Valley Oak League MVP as a freshman — gave the Spartans the lead inside the first 15 minutes, but their lack of depth caught up to them.
“We had a small bench today and ran out of steam,” Lathrop coach Jose Montes said. “Can’t take anything away from Beyer, that’s a very good team technically and tactically.
“Hopefully this was a wake-up call for us. We can’t rely only on Kassandra to score, so I’m going to make some changes that should help. I have good players I can move around.”

Varsity boys hoops
East Union 73, Elliot Christian 54

LODI — The Lancers (8-7) got back on the right track after dropping four of their previous five contests.
They did it with hustle on the boards and efficiency on offense Wednesday, erupting for 25 points in the second quarter for a commanding 39-22 halftime lead. East Union totaled 18 made 3-pointers.
Parm Khattra spearheaded East Union with 18 points, Christian Cuevas fired 17 and Asiah Scott 16. The Eagles from Lodi fell to 1-8.

Varsity girls hoops
Livingston 64, Ripon 42

LIVINGSTON — The Wolves (1-0 Trans-Valley League, 7-6 overall) outscored the Indians (0-1, 6-4) 40-23 in the second half of the TVL contest Tuesday.
“We got outplayed tonight by a team that wanted it more and a young lady who shot the lights out,” Ripon coach Rick Inderbitzin said. “Annie Winton was known as a good player and tonight she showed when you get hot just keep shooting.
“We need to go back and check ourselves and get back to basics. It was a learning lesson that teams are going to be ready to give us their A game.”
Winton scorched the Indians for 37 points. Reina Sacedo led Ripon with 16 points, seven rebounds and an assist. Tianna Sidtikun added nine points, two rebounds and an assist.