The fourth time was the charm for Sierra High’s boys soccer team Tuesday.
The Timberwolves downed former Valley Oak League rival Ceres 2-0 on the road to advance to the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs.
The two teams previously met three times in 2009, the final year that Ceres and intra-city foe Central Valley were in the VOL. Ceres eliminated Sierra from the postseason with a 2-0 win in the semifinals that year.
“It’s huge,” said Sierra coach Jose Montes said. “It was big for the kids, but for me it was like getting the monkey off my back. Every time we played them well (in 2009) but came up short. Now it’s back to the drawing board.”
Montes and Co. will now set up a game plan to face their toughest opponent of the year — unbeaten Vista del Lago of Folsom, which is ranked third in the state and 19th nationally by MaxPreps.com. The two will square off Thursday in Folsom with a tentative kickoff time set for 3 p.m.
In Tuesday’s contest, Nico Gonzalez scored one and assisted another in the second half to lead the way. His goal midway through the half was set up by Alejandro Gonzalez, who booted a shot from distance. The Ceres goalie bobbled the ball, and Nico was there to finish it off.
In the final minutes, Nico Gonzalez set up Jaime Rivera for the goal that put the game out of reach.
Montes said it was a back-and-forth battle throughout and credited his defenders — Alejandro Gonzalez, Anise Guedoir, Rigoberto Gomez, Trevor Nunes and Steven Dominguez — for making big plays in key moments. Montes added that goalie Jason Angelo played “one of his best games.”
“When we arrived they already had their game faces on, so I knew it was going to be a good day,” Montes said.