There was no letting up from Sierra this time around.
In its second encounter with Central Catholic on Friday, the Timberwolves’ 3-1 halftime lead stood until the end of this crucial Valley Oak League tilt at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium. Sierra (6-0-2 VOL, 17-0-4 overall) remains within striking distance of Manteca and trails the league leaders by two points. It also widened its cushion over third-place Central Catholic (5-2-1, 9-3-1).
History repeated itself, as the Timberwolves led 3-1 at halftime of their March 21 meeting with Central Catholic, which was able to salvage a tie. Although they were unable to score in the second half Friday, the Timberwolves kept their foot on the throttle and continued to keep the pressure on the defense.
“That’s what we really wanted to do,” Sierra midfielder Briana Oseguera said. “Offensively, we came out ready to attack (in the second half). We had the momentum going and we knew we needed to keep it. We already played them once, so we had a feel for how they were going to play.”
Oseguera capped scoring in the 32nd minute, launching a high-arcing shot from about 25 yards out over Central Catholic keeper Makenzie Perez.
The wind may have played a role in the goal as it did for Central Catholic’s. Skyler Hoy opened scoring in the 14th minute with a crack from near the left sideline, which sailed over Sierra’s Emma Broderick and settled into the opposite panel.
The Timberwolves answered with tying and go-ahead goals in the 20th and 28th.
The equalizer was a well-built counter-attack started by a freshman and punctuated by another. Yasmin Ballew pushed it wide to senior winger Annisity Miller along the right sideline, who juked a defender before delivering a perfect cross for Jadyn Shinn to deflect in.
Sierra went ahead for good when Callie Crain, another freshman, elevated above Central Catholic defender Suzanna Manseau for a headshot set up by senior defender McKenna Doyle’s cross from the right side.
“(The wind) played a factor and it affected both teams, but we still play our game no matter what the weather is,” Oseguera said.
Crain almost scored a second time early in the second half, but her long-distance try narrowly missed the crossbar. In the 76th minute, Shinn fed reserve Joanna Cruz a well-timed through ball for a one-on-one opportunity that was thwarted by Perez.
“Our team pretty much dominated much of the possession and created more opportunities in the second half,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “We could have had a couple more go in, but I liked the way we battled the whole game.”
And Sierra did so at partial strength. Ballew, the team’s second-leading scorer with 14 goals behind Shinn’s 16, sat out the entire second half with an injury.
“She’ll be fine, but we didn’t want to take any chances,” Pires said. “I had two other starters on the bench from the beginning. That happens, and we have a deep bench with girls ready to step in. They each play a role, they know what they have to do and they were prepared to go in there and play. I don’t think we missed a beat. We were still able to play smart and move the ball well.”
The Timberwolves hope to be as close to 100 percent as possible as they continue their toughest stretch of the season. They’ll head to East Union (4-4, 10-5) on Monday to square off with the defending VOL and Sac-Joaquin Section champion before taking on host Manteca (7-0-1, 16-1-1) two days later. Sierra is the only team to score a goal against Manteca in league, as they rumbled to a 1-1 draw on March 29.