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Sierra draws with Manteca thanks to Reyes’ late goal
Sierra-Manteca girls soccer
Manteca’s Sienna Jones (12) deflects the clearance attempt by Sierra defender Payton Abrew. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

With its top two scorers charging at the Sierra goal, Manteca was a touch away from securing a needed Valley Oak League win Monday at Guss Schmiedt Field.

Moments later, it was the visiting Timberwolves celebrating a counter-attack goal from an unlikely source in the 75th minute. It resulted in a 2-2 stalemate that cements Sierra as the third-place finisher in the VOL, while Manteca — thanks to Central Catholic’s 1-0 upset of shorthanded East Union — grabs the fourth and final Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.

Freshman Leslie Reyes, a midseason call-up from the junior-varsity squad, scored the equalizer for Sierra (4-2-4 VOL, 11-6-4 overall), launching from the left wing after dribbling past multiple Manteca players. Her stunning shot settled inside the right post and completely flipped the momentum of the game, as the T’wolves had four more chances — including Hailey Cruz’s blast off the crossbar — to possibly steal the win in the closing minutes.

Jocelin Roa tallied Sierra’s first goal in the 11th minute, while Alexia Alva and Cami Silva scored for Manteca in the eighth and 22nd.

“I knew I could do it, but I had to go through two or three players,” Reyes said of her big moment. “I just shot it and it went in. It honesty felt good to do that, especially because it was against a rival team.”

The goal was Reyes’ second at the varsity level.

Seconds before she took the shot, Manteca had a great look on the other end. Alva and Silva — one of the top scoring tandems in the SJS — worked in combination on a breakaway with only one defender to beat. Silva ultimately made the final pass, but a heavy first touch from Alva allowed Sierra goalkeeper Annika Beall (three saves) shut it down.

“We knew it was going to be a battle, these rivalry games always are” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “I’m proud of our girls. We didn’t let up in the second half, we still fought all the way through. Yeah, Manteca had a couple great chances, but we also had one hit the post and some that went right to the goalie. Both goalies made some great saves.”

Manteca controlled most of the second half but didn’t have a goal to show for it. The Alabama-bound Silva earlier had a great chance get cleared off the line by Sierra defender Weizemin Khan. She also laid off a pass to set up Sienna Jones’ uncontested try from near the penalty spot, but the shot went wide right. Alva nearly had an assist on a great cross from the right wing, but Gina Hirle’s headed attempt was nodded wide left of an open goal. 

“The difference in all of these games recently is that we were putting away these opportunities at the beginning of the season,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “Silly mistakes in the back, and not capitalizing on our opportunities up top. It’s not like it’s one person’s fault, it’s just missed opportunities that we were putting in the back of the net earlier in the season and our record was much better because of it. We weren’t giving up a lot of goals in the beginning of the season either.”

Although the Buffaloes still have a make-up match with second-place Kimball, the order of postseason qualifiers is set in the VOL with Oakdale locking up the league championship.

Sierra believes it is peaking at the right time, while Manteca is struggling to regain its earlier form. Their first meeting of the season also resulted in a draw, 1-1, but Sierra had good reason to think it let victory slip away in an otherwise dominant effort.

On Monday, it was Manteca feeling frustrated after dropping points that could have helped improve its seeding for postseason purposes. The Buffs have won just one of their last eight contests going into their regular-season finale Wednesday back at Guss Schmiedt Field.

Sierra, on the other hand, has not lost in its last seven games (4-0-3) since Stanislaus State signee Roa gained eligibility to rejoin the team.

“I think our team has gotten better and is more prepared the last couple of weeks,” Pires said. “They’re connecting more with each other on the field, and we just have more players that are able to stay healthy. I really feel that we are well prepared going into the playoffs.”


Junior varsity

Sierra 5, Manteca 1

Sierra completed its first-place run, getting one goal and one assist each from Maitland Kohoutek, Katie Machado, Anayla McDonald, and Deborah Villalobos. Shayla Cline contributed with a goal.


East Union 10, Central Catholic 0

Giselle Reye highlighted the Lancers’ lopsided victory with a hat trick, while Larissa Harries scored twice.

Adding a goal apiece were Zoie Dutra, Sophia Heidrich, Sarah Peterson, Jennifer Robillard and Mila Ysalva.