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Keepers big saves help Buffs salvage draw
Sierra striker Joanna Ortiz tries to get the first touch on it as Manteca High defender Katelyn Rosas challenges her in the first half of Monday’s Valley Oak League contest at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
The spring showers won’t seem to go away.

The same can be said for Manteca High’s pesky girls soccer team, which was able to salvage a 0-0 tie at Sierra despite getting outshot 15-1 in the second half of Monday’s rain-soaked Valley Oak League match.

The stalemate knocked Sierra (6-1-3, 11-2-5 overall) out of first place and keeps the fifth-place Buffaloes (5-4-1, 11-6-2) in the running for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoff berth.

Depending on which side you’re on, the blame and praise can both be placed on Manteca shot stopper Jimi Guibor, who tallied seven of her nine saves in the second half.

Her instincts and reflexes were on full display in the 73rd minute when she stopped two of the best looks Sierra had all night on the same play.

Joanna Ortiz took a pass from Kristen DeBrouwer and with a quick burst was able to squirt through the middle of the Sierra defense. Her laser shot from near the top of the 18-yard line was redirected by the diving Guibor, but she wasn’t out of the clear yet.

Patricia Angel collected the loose ball near the left post and sent it backwards to Stephanie Vanni, whose high shot nearly slipped through Guibor’s gloves before she recovered it with a quick 180-degree turn.

“It was just nerve-wracking but exciting, too,” Guibor said. “I feel like I helped my team out and I know they can count on me, but at the same time I’m like, ‘Get it out of here! I don’t want it!’”

Guibor had another one for the highlight reel 14 minutes into the second half. Working off a backwards pass from Dianna Alfaro, Sierra defender Sydnee Koscielecki surged through the Buffaloes’ defense before setting up for a threatening shot on goal from roughly 30 yards out.

Curling from left to right, the ball appeared to be on its way in before Guibor dove to her right to slap it out of bounds.

“That was an awesome save,” said Sierra coach Manuel Pires. “That was the play of the game at that point.”

Sierra goalkeeper Lia Unterholzner herself has had some big-time performances this season, but she was a non-factor for most of Monday’s contest. She did have a key save on Manteca’s only shot of the second half, deflecting a well-placed shot from Brittany Costa.

The Timberwolves were in full control over the final 40 minutes, even after DeBrouwer was red carded with 5 minutes to go to leave them a player short for the remainder of the match.

Angel had Sierra’s best look late, but her deep shot was zipped over the crossbar in stoppage time.

“Manteca is a very dangerous team; I knew that from the first time we played them,” Pires said. “I thought we played well, but the score is still 0-0.”

Manteca is 0-11-3 against Sierra since twice beating its crosstown rival in 2005.

A loss would have severely damaged Buffaloes’ chances of sneaking into the playoffs. Only three get in and four games remain.

The two sides had contracting reactions to the hard-fought draw immediately after the contest. The Manteca faithful cheered wildly with its players taking a bow to acknowledge their supporters on the visiting end of Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.

 “We’re not used to being in this position against Sierra, and I think the girls naturally went into a conservative mode (in the second half),” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “That wasn’t the game plan because we wanted to win this one — we needed to win this one.

“We might need some help from some other teams. A loss would have been devastating, but the girls played hard and gave it everything they had so I can’t be too disappointed.”

Sierra’s sideline was one of dejection. The Timberwolves now trail Oakdale by a point in the standings and are in a second-place tie with East Union, which they defeated 1-0 last Friday.

“We want to win the league,” Pires said. “We just got to first place and worked very hard to get there, and now we’re not in first place anymore.”