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Manteca battles tough despite early 2-0 deficit
Manteca’s Rileigh Mankin controls the ball as Sierra’s Patricia Angel (13) and Stephanie Vanni close in. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Manteca High’s girls soccer team was already without goal-scoring dynamo Airenne Curry, who had to miss her second straight match with an illness.

Sophomore goalkeeper Jimi Guibor reaggravated a broken pinkie midway through the first half, and late in the second half center midfielder Rileigh Mankin was ejected after she was issued her second yellow card.

“It was not looking good,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said.

But during stoppage time of Thursday’s Valley Oak League match with visiting rival and defending champion Sierra, the Buffaloes were still in position to come away with at least a tie.

They were unable to convert on two cornerkick opportunities, and after the second Sierra forward Kenisha Gathron punched in the final goal on a breakaway to put Manteca away for good, 4-2.

Manteca (1-1, 7-3-1 overall) hasn’t beaten Sierra since doing so twice in 2005 and is 0-8-2 since. Sierra is already alone in first place after just two league contests with East Union and Oakdale battling to a 1-1 tie Thursday.

 “What I was most happy about is that despite everything that went on our girls rallied together,” Coenenberg said. “It would have been easy at any point in the game for them to quit and they didn’t, they played hard.”

Which didn’t surprise Manuel Pires and his Sierra Timberwolves (2-0, 6-4); not even after taking a 2-0 lead inside of the game’s first five minutes.

 “This is a tough place to win,” Pires said. “We knew it was not a safe lead, and I liked the way we responded. It’s always good to come away from here with three points.”

Back from injury, Delaine Quaresma blasted in Sierra’s first goal in the second minute, launching her shot from nearly 40 yards out off a deflection while catching Guibor off guard.

Two minutes later, Joanna Ortiz fed a streaking Stephanie Vanni from the left corner to double the early cushion.

“I definitely think we had a lot of nerves,” Coneneberg said. “We’re a young team, and Sierra is a more experienced team. But I think as the game went on we started to realize that we could play with these girls and it ended up being a pretty good game.”

The Buffaloes came to life in the 24th minute. Abigail Rosas dropped the ball into Sierra’s penalty area with a free kick from midfield. Maureen Kvistad one-touched it to Jessica Reeder, who sent it in for Manteca’s first goal.

Sierra responded just four minutes later with a penalty kick from Vanni. Rosas pulled Manteca back to within one with a deep free kick in the 51st minute, but the Buffaloes, who were outshot 15-6, couldn’t muster anymore legitimate scoring opportunities until the end.

The match kicked off the first of a tough four-game stretch for the Timberwolves, who will next square off with other title and postseason hopefuls starting with Sonora at home Monday. Sierra also faces Oakdale on the road and East Union next week.

Manteca will be back at Guss Schmiedt Field Monday to play first-year varsity Lathrop.

“This is huge,” Pires said. “The girls can enjoy this moment now but there isn’t much time because we have three more big games next week.”