And on the eighth corner kick, Sierra scored.
The Timberwolves fully dominated host Manteca in the first half of their Valley Oak League match at Guss Schmiedt Field on Monday but had nothing to show for it until Eriq Kurys broke the ice in the 29th minute. Alex Mata then scored off a throw-in on the final play of the half, and Sierra held on for a 2-0 win.
“In the first half we gave up way too many corner kicks,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “It’s only a matter of time for a team that talented to score eventually.”
It was truly not a matter of if but when first-place Sierra (5-0 VOL, 11-4-1 overall) would find the net. The Timberwolves outshot the Buffaloes (1-3, 5-6-1) 14-2 in the opening half.
Kurys drove it past Manteca keeper Matsua Garcia-Mendez (nine saves) after Athen Gonzalves’ corner cross was initially deflected. Sierra continued to pressure the Buffs’ bend-don’t-break defense — Josh Kong and Hector Ramirez broke up several goal-scoring opportunities for Sierra in the first half — until Gonzalves found Mata streaking into the goal box on a throw-in from near the left corner flag.
“Like I told the guys at the beginning of the game, the longer we don’t score the longer (Manteca) stays in the game mentally,” Sierra coach Joe Pires said. “Our plan was to get a couple of goals early to where we can relax.”
Manteca did not allow the visitors to relax in the second half. The Buffaloes played with more energy and efficiency and even held a 9-8 edge on shots taken but came up empty-handed on breakaways and point-blank chances.
In one 30-second window during the opening minutes of the half, Manteca fired three shots: two were deflected, and the third was booted wide right.
Saul Aguiniga, whom Sierra coach Joe Pires called “the hot goalie right now,” came up with two key saves in the second half to preserve the shutout after he had an uneventful first 40 minutes.
“I just thought we came out and didn’t play our best,” Coenenberg said. “We talked at halftime about what we needed to do. We definitely needed to possess the ball more to create some more opportunities and we were able to do that, unfortunately their goalie made a couple of good saves and other times we put it right at him.
“We had the opportunities. We were just not able to capitalize.”
Garcia-Mendez also had bright moments between the posts for Manteca to keep it in the fight. He put himself in a tough spot after taking down Sierra striker Eddie Aguilar in the box during a 1-on-1 in the 65th minute. Garcia-Mendez rejected Aguilar’s penalty kick then batted away David Lopez’s follow-up try before Sierra was called for a foul before attempting a third.
Sierra is in the middle of a tough stretch in the schedule that began with one-goal wins over defending VOL champion Weston Ranch and perennial contender Oakdale last week. The Timberwolves will next host second-place Central Catholic on Wednesday and East Union on Jan. 16.
“These are wins we need to get early on,” Pires said. “We’re getting points here and there and looking pretty good. I’m happy with where we are.”
Sierra 6, Manteca 2
Adib Guedoir’s hat trick buoyed the one-sided win for Sierra.
Tristan Gonzalez added two goals, and Alex Cervantes had one.