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Sierra unseats Sonora for VOL championship
Sierra striker Nicole Vanni surpassed Cherie Early’s career goal-scoring mark Tuesday, breaking the school record with 102 so far. - photo by Bulletin file photo
SONORA — Sierra has reason to celebrate.

More like reasons.

The Timberwolves’ commanding 6-0 victory over three-time defending Valley Oak League and Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion Sonora was their first at Dunlavy Field since 2004.

And with the win comes the decorated program’s 10th conference title in 14 varsity seasons. Sierra’s last title came in 2006, which was shared with Sonora.

“There’s so much to be proud of with this game,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “It’s a new experience for this group to be able to go up there and win, and we were able to keep our winning streak alive.”

That’s win No. 22 in a row for Sierra (13-0, 24-0-1 overall), and its only “blemish” of the year is a 1-1 draw with Division I powerhouse Turlock in the preseason.

The Timberwolves have garnered national attention this year, as they are ranked third according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas poll, and first in Region VI. They recently cracked the top 10 on ESPN Rise’s Fab 50 and are listed at No. 8.

To further illustrate how dominant Sierra has been all season, Tuesday’s shutout is the 20th for goalkeeper Moriah Fallon (seven saves) and her brick wall of a defense.

On the other end of the field, San Francisco State-bound forward Nicole Vanni had her own personal reason to celebrate, though her coach said she showed little emotion after breaking Cherie Early’s career scoring record in the 77th minute.

Vanni finished off a dazzling breakaway sequence started by Mariela Pimentel’s through pass from the right side. It was goal No. 2 of the night for Vanni, a section-leading 48 for the season and a new school record of 102 for her sterling career.

“I’m sure she knows, but she hasn’t said anything about it,” Pires said. “Her focus all season hasn’t been on the record, it’s to win a league championship. And she wants that section banner really bad — so does the rest of the team.”

Defender Hannah Obanni chipped in two goals including the game’s first off Lacy Vaughan’s cornerkick just 50 seconds into the match.

Brooke Grant assisted Kayla Cody’s goal in the 48th minute and scored her own just two minutes later. Michaela Scott contributed with an assist.

As impressive as Sierra looked in its 4-0 win over second-place Sonora (11-2, 17-2-3) at home April 2, the Timberwolves managed to one-up themselves Tuesday.

“I’m really proud of my kids,” Pires said. “They played an outstanding game all around, and they deserve to be champs.”

Sierra wraps up the regular season at Weston Ranch Thursday.

East Union 3, Central Valley 1
In Ceres, the Lancers (5-8, 9-12-3) outshot the Hawks, 18-7, in the win.

Eliana da Silva converted a rebound off a Jesika Villegas shot in the 7th minute, and Kaci Todd found net off a help from Megan Howley in the 31st minute. Villegas scored again later on after Howley set her up for her second assist.

Gianna Hedin had seven saves.

“I was really glad to see some passing composure and keeping shape across the field,”EU head coach Jim Todd said. “We got everyone in and some players got to make some nice touches and runs.”

In a make-up game at Dino Cunial Field Monday, East Union dropped a 2-0 heartbreaker despite outshooting Oakdale, 12-8.

Oakdale 2, Manteca 0
In Oakdale, the Mustangs outshot Manteca (6-5-2, 12-7-2), 21-11, as Manteca keeper Jimi Guibor racked up 16 saves.

Buffaloes head coach Justin Coenenberg was pleased with Manteca’s effort in the midfield, but said Manteca’s work at either end of the field wasn’t up to snuff.

“We passed really well but had problems in both boxes,” he said. “We gave them too many opportunities.”

Manteca hosts East Union Thursday in the league finale.

Ceres 1, Weston Ranch 0
In Ceres, the host Bulldogs scored with six minutes to go in the first half and held on for dear life in the second as Weston Ranch (0-13) dominated possession.

“We were asleep in the first half, but we were a different team in the second half,” Weston Ranch coach Carlos Gaspar said. “We had so many shots, but we couldn’t capitalize on them. We should have won the game.”

— Jonamar Jacinto