Sierra made the most of its few chances but was ultimately outgunned by Oakdale in a 3-2 Valley Oak League loss at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium on Monday.
With five starters out — including standout center midfielder Kevin Mendiola with an illness and two others because of yellow-card accumulation — the Timberwolves (7-3, 13-7-1 overall) had trouble keeping up with the speed and skill by Oakdale (5-3-2, 11-6-2), which avenged a previous loss by the same score.
“Sierra is not an easy team,” Oakdale coach Alfredo Quiroga said. “This was big for us.”
The Mustangs were coming off back-to-back losses to Manteca and VOL-leading East Union. It was also an important match for Sierra, which falls further from the race for the league title after dropping three of its last four.
“We played flat (in a 4-2 upset loss to Kimball) and tonight we played hard but didn’t have all the bodies,” Sierra coach Joe Pires said. “We’re not in a good situation right now.”
The Timberwolves did well to nearly sneak away with a tie. They were able to convert on their only shots of the first half to twice tie the score.
Oakdale’s Jake Mendoza opened scoring with a header off Alexander Gonzalez’s corner kick in the 20th minute. Sierra answered in the next minute, as David Lopez skipped a shot that took a funny hop over Oakdale goalie Daniel Dubiel.
The scoring barrage continued in the 24th minute when Winslow Barrales crushed a low line drive past Sierra keeper Saul Aguiniga (four saves) from about 30 yards out. Carlos Mendez, playing with a sore back and hip, provided the second equalizer for the Timberwolves seven minutes later after Chris Cortez chipped a short through ball toward the goal to set up a routine one-on-one opportunity.
Sierra was outshot 10-2 in the first half but did a better job of possessing the ball in the second. The Timberwolves had an opportunity to take the lead early in the second half following a free kick from Fabian Lopez. Eddie Reynoso received it near the left post and slid a perfect cross to Erick Ruvalcaba, but his point-blank shot was deflected away by a defender.
Oakdale’s Collin Harrity registered the deciding goal in the 61st minute. Wesley Allen nearly connected on a bicycle kick on Barrales delivery into the box, but Harrity was at the right place at the right time to put it away.
“We played well,” Pires said. “We hung in there, had some looks, especially in the second half. They never gave up and played hard. I’m not happy with the outcome but I’m happy with the way the boys played.
“You have to give Oakdale credit, they played well and they’re very good on their first touches. Every year Oakdale gets better as the season moves along. They’re very well coached and they have a good group of kids.”
Sierra 3, Oakdale 1
Tristan Gonzalez struck for a pair of goals, and Mateo Garcia added one for the triumphant Timberwolves.