Manteca was able to accomplish much of what it wanted to in Monday’s vital Valley Oak League clash at Sierra’s Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium — except score.
Emily Cunial and Jadyn Shinn came through with goals late in each half, helping injury-stricken Sierra squeak past the reigning VOL and Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion, 2-0.
“We expected this kind of battle from Manteca,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “They’ve been on a good run and we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. That’s how these rivalry games go.”
This was a make-up match after Sierra’s field was deemed unplayable last week. For Manteca, which has two other contests to make up, it was its first in two weeks. The Buffaloes (2-1 VOL, 8-3-1 overall) showed little rust despite the layoff and gave Sierra reason for worry in the second half. After an evenly-played first half, Manteca outshot the Timberwolves 9-4 over the final 40 minutes.
“We’re obviously disappointed we didn’t win the game, but I’m extremely pleased with the way we played,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “We wanted to come out and win possession and we did that. We did a good job of winning 50-50 balls and we created opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize. Obviously when you play a good team like Sierra you can’t make too many mistakes and they capitalized on a couple. But I think for the most part we outplayed them for a good part of the game.”
Sierra (5-0, 14-1) had the better looks in the opening half, none as good as Kyndra Kiser’s in the 33rd minute. Her breakaway opportunity was set up nicely by Shinn, and after a deflection from Manteca keeper Tawny Deericnk (four saves) Kiser pushed her contested shot wide left with the goal wide open.
Cunial later converted on her only attempt of the match, and it was the final play of the half on a throw-in. She was at the right place at the right time as the ball bounced in her direction, and Cunial, a natural lefty, lofted her shot over Deerinck.
“It just kind of ricocheted perfectly right to me,” Cunial said. “I looked up and saw a bunch of people there so I just tried to kick it over. I really didn’t think, I just kicked it.”
Manteca asserted itself at the start of the second half and nearly tied it moments after the kickoff. Kaitlynn Funsch had a shot blocked by Callie Crain (five saves), and the Sierra keeper thwarted the follow-up try from Madison Burch. Crain, who is playing with a sore left shoulder, was instrumental in preserving Sierra’s 1-0 win over Central Catholic last Thursday. Sierra has posted five straight shutouts, giving up just one goal against league opponents.
“Callie, as hurt as she is, she played like an animal right there,” Pires said. “They had a chance at the beginning of the half and she was able to get a hand on it. That was a huge play. I think that’s the difference of the game right there.”
Manteca relented after the missed opportunities. In the 60th minute, Burch once again had good look at the goal but didn’t get a clean touch on the one-on-one attempt. Five minutes later, Alexa Mayen connected with Funsch on a corner-kick cross, but Funsch’s volley bounced off a Sierra defender.
“It’s tough going down 1-0 the way we did at the end of the half, but I thought we came out right from the get-go in the second half and we were outplaying them,” Coenenberg said. “(The deficit) didn’t feel like it changed the way we played at all.
“For the most part, I thought there were a lot of positives and we’ll look to build on that.”
Sierra eventually slowed the Buffaloes roll thanks to Shinn’s insurance goal in the 73rd minute. The Notre Dame commit was set up in front of the Manteca goal when Jasmine Loaiza fed her the ball, and after walling off defenders to receive the pass Shinn quickly turned to fire the shot.
“It was a very important goal, I just wish it came a little bit sooner,” Pires joked. “We were struggling a little bit in the second half because we were not winning the ball at midfield. We have a lot of girls playing hurt right now, but they sucked it up and stayed in there as long as they could. We’re just happy to come away with the three points, because it doesn’t get any easier.”
The Timberwolves head to East Union (3-1-1, 7-3-1) today, while Manteca hosts Weston Ranch.
Sierra 5, Manteca 2
The Timberwolves had five different goal scorers in the rout: Diana Martinez, Alexa Rebelo, Felicia La Quaglia, Isabel Muzquiz and Ashley Castrejon. Isabella Cebreros and Nicole Gonzalez scored for Manteca.