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Sierra holds turf with two shutouts
TWolves one win from Gebhardt Cup title game
Sierra’s Mariela Pimentel surges ahead of an aggressive Downey defender. - photo by HIME ROMERO
The pressure of hosting the 5th Annual Vern Gebhardt Champions Cup as defending champions didn’t seem to faze Sierra High’s soccer team, as the Timberwolves came out of pool play with a 3-0 win over Downey and a 2-0 win over Stagg Friday.

Sierra (3-3) set up a shot at back-to-back tournament titles, leaving the squad a victory over pool “C” winner Golden Valley short of a championship berth.

The Timberwolves opened action with a strong showing against Downey, holding the Knights off the scoreboard and keeping it out of reach with a solid second half.

Lucy Cazares tacked on the first goal when she got loose for an unassisted score in the game’s 23rd minute. Junior Stephanie Vanni found the back of the net twice in the second half, netting shots in the 10th and 15th minute to secure the win. Mariela Pimentel provided the assists on both Vanni scores.

Sierra continued in its second contest against Stagg, pushing ahead 1-0 on a Pimentel goal in the 10th minute. Lacy Vaughan assisted Pimentel’s goal and Joanna Ortiz provided the assist on Dianna Alfaro’s goal in the 23rd minute.

“The first game was a good game, we started off a little slow and picked it up as the game went along,” Sierra head coach Manual Pires said. “I really started seeing some good things in the second half when we started spreading the field and moving the ball around.”

With the Valley Oak League season kicking off next week the Timberwolves are seemingly turning the corner at the right time. Sierra opens league play with consecutive road games, traveling to Central Valley and then to Manteca, giving the squad a semi-sense of urgency in its last weekend of non-league play.

“These two games were definitely a good test for us,” Pires said of Friday’s action. “They were two very good wins, but I am happier about getting the shutouts.

“The girls play hard and did not allow a goal, and that is pretty good.”

The tournament field is broken into four different pools of three teams. Golden Valley, Turlock and Beyer all captured their respective pool championships, setting up Golden Valley-Sierra and Turlock-Beyer semifinal games.

Beyer and Turlock get underway first, beginning at 11 a.m., while Sierra and Golden Valley follow at 12:30 p.m. The winners will meet up for the tournament championship at 5 p.m.

“Tomorrow we’re looking at it as two finals,” Pires said. “We have Golden Valley, which is a very strong program and they’ve been playing well for the last few years. We know it’s going to be a big test for our girls.

“I think the girls are really starting to understand what we are working on in practice.”
— Jagada Chambers