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All-Area MVP draws inspiration from late brother, former Sierra standout
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Photo by SEAN KAHLER Sierra striker Miguel Villaseñor (7) battles East Union midfielders Gabriel Gutierrez (22) and Eduardo Gonzalez (8) for possession during a Valley Oak League match.

Miguel Villaseñor was plenty motivated for his senior season at Sierra.

He focused on his overall fitness over the summer, gaining strength and speed while continuing to refine his touches on the ball. 

He strived to be that guy.

He wanted to be like his brother.

Villaseñor and the Timberwolves were rewarded for his hard work in 2018-19. The team claimed a second straight Valley Oak League championship, and as its leading scorer Villaseñor earned All-VOL MVP honors. The striker is also the Manteca Bulletin All-Area MVP. 

All that he does to prepare for games is with step-brother Eddie Aguilar in mind. Aguilar was named All-Area MVP in 2017 after scoring 28 goals and 12 assists and spearheading Sierra’s Cinderella run to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV final. He died in a car accident months later during his freshman year at Ottawa University in Arizona.

“My brother is my biggest inspiration,” Villaseñor said. “He’s the reason why I play. Before every game I visit the cemetery to see him.

“He really made a name for himself at Sierra, and I just wanted to step up and match that.”

Villaseñor turned himself into the target forward that the Timberwolves lacked the previous year. He had eight goals and eight assists during his junior year, both team-highs. 

This past season, he blew up for 26 goals and six assists. No other Timberwolf scored more than six goals. 

It was in league that he was at his best. Twenty-one of his goals were spread across 10 VOL matches, and the two he failed to score in were the ones the Timberwolves lost. They finished 10-2 in league, 15-7 overall.

“My junior year I wasn’t really a priority as a target,” he said. “This year I knew I had to step up and be that guy and a leader on this team.”

He recorded a season-high four goals in a 5-1 win over Central Catholic and followed that with a three-goal, one-assist effort to lead Sierra past Kimball, 4-2. 

Villaseñor was later the tone-setter in two of the team’s biggest matches of the season. Sierra clinched the league crown in the final two regular-season contests, a 3-0 shutout of third-place rival East Union and 3-1 win over Weston Ranch. He accounted for three goals and an assist in those two games.

“Those are the moments when the best players stand out,” Villaseñor said. “If you really want to win you have to do a little extra.

“Winning the league title was our goal,” he added. “Getting league MVP just happened to come with it. But the league title was always the priority as a younger team with a lot of freshmen. Winning back-to-back was big for us as a program. Hopefully the younger players can keep that going and I think they can.”

Sierra came up short in its quest for a third section final appearance and first SJS title. Villaseñor scored his final goal in the first round when the third-seeded T’wolves held off Beyer, 2-1. They then squeaked past Christian Brothers in penalty kicks before falling to eventual SJS Division III champion Ceres in another PK shootout after tussling to a back-and-forth 2-2 draw.

“That game was really tough,” Villaseñor said. “(Ceres) was more aggressive than what we’re used to. A lot of their players were older and stronger. We were winning at the beginning but we made a few mistakes and had to get back in the game. In PKs, it comes down to luck and they just so happen to be the luckier team.”

Instead of dwelling on the heartbreaking loss, Villaseñor has much to look forward to. He’s taking a familiar path previously paved by his brother.

On April 12, Villaseñor signed to play for Ottawa University in Arizona. The NAIA program is going into its third year of existence after compiling a 20-16-10 combined record in the first two. Villaseñor is getting prepared for the competition by running for the Sierra track team.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “Another reason why I worked so hard this year is because I want to finish what he started. Hopefully we can get the first championships for the team. I’m going to do the best I can.”