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Nicholas Gonzalez named co-MVP; local coaches share honor
Sierra standout Nicholas Gonzalez dribbles toward the Manteca goal area as defender Carlos Belmonte tries to keep up. Gonzalez was named co-MVP of the Valley Oak League, while Belmonte was named to the second team. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

The Manteca area is represented well on the All-Valley Oak League team, and rightfully so.

Twenty two of the 30 first- and second-team selections played for Manteca Unified schools in what was the league’s most competitive season in recent memory.

Leading the group is Sierra High forward Nicholas Gonzalez, who was voted co-Most Valuable Player along with Kimball’s Brett Lassiter. Gonzalez scored 14 goals and 10 assists during the regular season and led the Timberwolves (9-2-3, 14-4-5 overall) to a share of their second VOL championship in three seasons.

Sierra co-head coaches Brett Parham and Jose Montes share Coach of the Year honors with Manteca’s Justin Coenenberg, who guided the Buffaloes (9-2-3, 14-4-5) to their first title run since 2007. Both clubs were eliminated from the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

Four Buffaloes were named to the All-VOL first team. Sophomore striker Marcus Montano paced area scorers with 22 goals and 11 assists overall. He was joined by midfielders Ricardo Marin and Manuel Nuno and defender Cesar Reyes.

Ruben Lopez (11 goals, 9 assists) and Erick Noriega (9 goals) earned first-team recognition, as did East Union defender Jordan Kron, midfielder Alfredo Solorzano and forward Scott Fisher. Lathrop defender George Cardenas and defender Jairo Gonzalez, Weston Ranch’s lone all-league selection, round out area standouts on the first team.

Second-team honorees include three more Manteca Buffaloes: forward Ignacio Valdovinos (15 goals, 10 assists), midfielder Ramon Rodriguez and sophomore defender Carlos Belmonte. Midfielder Jaime Rivera and defenders Steven Dominguez and Rigoberto Gomez of Sierra also made the second-team cut.

Lathrop has three second-teamers in forward Gilberto Duran (9 goals, 5 assists) and midfielders Danny Becerra and Andres Garcia. They are joined by East Union goalie Lupe Flores and defender Jose Luis Cerda.

Earning honorable mention: Drew Erwin, Omar Guzman and Ulysses Almahza of Lathrop; Onacis Illan, Abdiel Chiquito and Daniel Caldrini of Manteca; Henry Diaz, Anis Guedoir and Bryan Ramos of Sierra; Daniel Tapia, Enrique Jimenez, Ivan Abarca, Antobelly Guzman and Victor Trejo of Weston Ranch.

East Union (5-4-6, 8-5-6) finished a disappointing fifth place after capturing the league title in 2011. Forfeited wins against Kimball and Sonora ended up knocking the Lancers out of the playoff hunt. Lathrop (5-2-7, 11-4-7), meanwhile, enjoyed its best season, finishing fourth.