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Section titles within reach for 3 area teams
Manteca, Sierra to tangle with familiar foes
Sierra midfielder Nicholas Gonzalez grabs a piece of Jonathan Portillos jersey during a heated Valley Oak League match at Manteca High on Oct. 13. - photo by HIME ROMERO

For each of the three area high school soccer programs still vying for a shot at hoisting a blue banner, their next contest will prove the most important game any of the clubs have played this season. As important as preseason tournaments and league titles were a few weeks ago, Today’s contests will dictate all of these team’s season.

For Manteca, the foe will be somewhat familiar in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal, as the Buffaloes will do battle with the Central Valley Hawks. The Hawks are just three short seasons removed from competing alongside Manteca in the Valley Oak League.

Now the Hawks are a part of the Western Athletic Conference. The two clubs met for a non-league matchup Sept. 4th and Manteca pulled out a 2-1 victory. Central Valley only lost one game the remainder of the season.

Manteca’s the tournament’s No. 1 seed, so they will host Central Valley (No. 5) in the 6:30 p.m. matchup. The winner will advance to Saturday section championship against the Rio Americano-River Valley semifinal matchup.

There will also be rematch at Sierra tonight. The Timberwolves host No. 7 Galt in the Division-IV tourney. They beat Galt 3-2 in nonleague action.

The Warriors landed a spot in the semifinal with a 5-2 upset over No. 2 seed Placer. Galt has only lost one game in its last 11 and definitely come into the crucial matchup with a host of confidence.

Ripon Christian has worked itself one win from a shot at the first section championship since the 1994 soccer season. The Knights will have to go through Division-VII No. 1 seed Sacramento Country Day. The Cavaliers have outscored their opponents 27-2 over its past four games and will likely come out aggressive against the No. 5 seed Knights. With a bracket-busting upset victory over the Cavaliers, Ripon Christian could earn a spot in the title game against the Vacaville Christian-Victory Christian.

All of the tournament finals will be played at either Lincoln High in Stockton, or Cosumnes Oaks High in Elk Grove. Those sites will be determined after the semifinals are complete.