WESTON RANCH – The struggling Sierra High girls soccer team picked up the three points it so desperately needed.
It may have also found someone to fill in for injured striker Naomi Nunis.
Jessica Cueca scored two goals and assisted another and the Timberwolves snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory over Weston Ranch on Tuesday evening.
Sierra picked up its first win in 20 days and improved to 6-5-2 and 2-3 in Valley Oak League play, but it was far from easy.
The Timberwolves were pushed by the one-win Cougars for 40 minutes.
“The big thing is to grab three points from every game you can,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “For us to get three points today was very important.
“The team finally woke up and played a lot better, with a lot more possession and better organization.”
All the scoring took place in the second half as the Cougars (1-5 VOL, 2-6) baited Sierra’s forwards with an effective offsides trap. The gamble also yielded several breakaways, but each time Cueca and the Timberwolves were turned away by goalie Leslie Mayorca (three saves).
“In the first half, you could tell that she was frustrated,” Pires said. She had a couple of opportunities and didn’t capitalize.”
She couldn’t miss in the second half.
Cueca scored inside the first minute on a feed from Toree Iniquez. About a minute later, she slid a ball through the box on the ground to Alexis Young to make it 2-0.
“She didn’t have the angle,” Pires said, “but still found her teammate.”
Cueca closed the scoring in the 22nd minute, finishing a cross from Asia Cortez from the right sideline.
Her play is pivotal to the short-handed Timberwolves, who host defending Valley Oak League champion East Union on Friday.
Nunis is one of the league’s top playmakers, a home-run threat at the top of the Timberwolves’ attack. But she has played sparingly since injuring her knee against Manteca on March 15.
The junior checked into the game for only a few minutes on Tuesday, and Pires says she’s unlikely to play Friday.
Until her return, Cueca may be the Timberwolves’ No. 1 option.
She was on Tuesday.
“Jessica stepped up and played really well,” Pires said. “She had to play up top in the center, and I thought she created some good opportunities.
“She made a big difference.”
Manteca 9, Sierra 0
Frank Fontana said there were signs of rust from the holiday break.
Sierra isn’t so convinced.
The Buffaloes rolled over the Timberwolves in their return to Valley Oak League play, sweeping all forms of competition.
Manteca’s shutout was anchored by its top two singles players – No. 1 Mike Lopez and No. 2 Yok-Jing Ma. The two combined to drop just two games in their victories.
The young, inexperienced Timberwolves managed to extend Manteca in two matches. Anthony Alcantar forced a third set against Thomas Reza, while Jonnel Alcantar and Enrique Salgado lost a three-set super tiebreaker to Nick Lopez-Ellis and Edvin Pepic.
“Some guys looked a little rusty,” Fontana said, “but overall we played pretty good.”
Sierra 235, Manteca 251
Matt Rose and Blake Settlemoir each shot 46, tying for medalist honors in the Timberwolves’ victory at Manteca Park Golf Course. The two teams meet again on Thursday.
Manteca 112, Weston Ranch 54
Manteca 126, Lathrop 23
Manteca 105, Weston Ranch 27
Manteca 92, Lathrop 36
The Buffaloes’ return to the pool was met with a flurry of milestones.
Senior Lauren Helsley picked up her first-ever victory, taking top honors in the 500-yard freestyle. She also finished second in the 200 free in her first attempt at the event.
Sophomore Julia Saling qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section meet in the 100 breaststroke, while freshman Austin Welch buoyed the boys’ sweep with wins in the 100 backstroke and 200 free.
“The first meet back after Spring Break is a tough day to have a meet,” Manteca coach Elyce Silva said, “but I was really impressed with all of my kids today.
“They recorded great times and almost everyone improved. It was great to get a couple of wins under our belt heading into our meet against Ripon on Friday.”
The Manteca boys and girls are 2-3 in VOL duals and tri-meets.
East Union 6, Manteca 5 (9)
Mario Gonzalez (2 for 3) hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to give the East Union baseball team a walk-off victory over its rival.
Kyle Emmerson led East Union’s offensive attack with four hits. Gabe Chavez was 3 for 4.