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First-place Buffs end 9-game losing streak to East Union
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Manteca forward Leah Manuleleua is challenged by East Unions Britney Moneyhun in a Valley Oak League match held Monday at Guss Schmiedt Field. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

East Union managed to shut down Manteca’s all-time leading scorer once again, but its mastery of the Buffaloes came to an end Monday in a 3-0 loss at Guss Schmiedt Field.

Manteca (6-0-1, 15-1-1 overall), which remains in first place at the midway point of the Valley Oak League season, had a nine-game losing streak to its cross-town rival including a 2-0 defeat in last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III final. It’s the Buffaloes’ first victory over East Union since the 2011 regular-season finale.

“It’s a relief because we worked so hard and we really wanted to beat them,” Manteca senior Ivy Benson said. “We were pretty upset from last year so it’s a big weight off our chest.”

Leah Manuleleua scored her program-best 100th career goal in a first-place showdown with Central Catholic last Wednesday. She only has one goal in eight career appearances against East Union, but her presence Monday helped open things up for the rest of her team.

Sophomore Madison Burch booted the first and final goals for the Buffaloes, and Benson added one to go with an assist. Jocelyn Reyes was in on two assists, and Natalia Duran connected with Benson on her goal with a perfect through ball on a counterattack.

“It’s kind of nice having so many talented girls,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “Leah was getting a lot of attention up there so we dropped her back to midfield and put Ivy up top where she is very good. There are a lot of different things that we can do.”

East Union (3-4, 9-5) has dropped three straight for the first time since 2009 and has struggled without key members from its section championship teams of the past two years. Talented junior Ilena Rivera is no longer with the squad, and in last Wednesday’s 4-2 loss the Lancers lost third-year midfielder Jenna Zuniga, possibly for the season, to an Achilles tendon injury. 

“It’s a big gap there in the middle,” East Union coach Victor Polanco said. “Jenna Zuniga is one of the best players we have. Everybody is fighting hard over there but it’s big a (loss) not having her.”

The Lancers still played well enough to win the possession battle for most of the opening half. Manteca, however, had the better chances. Burch broke the scoreless tie in the 35th minute with a tap-in goal set up by Benson, who, after receiving a long ball from Jocelyn Reyes, headed it over East Union keeper Marcella Salyer (seven saves).

“Our problem has been the same the last three games — we make mistakes in the back, and when we have our opportunities (to score) we don’t put it in the net,” Polanco said. “That’s the difference between the two teams; they got their opportunities and they put it in. They played pretty good, too. That’s a very good team, and they’ve been playing pretty good for the last three seasons.

East Union’s best chances came late. Clarissa Lecce’s breakaway attempt sailed high off the target in the 68th minute, and in the final minute Skylar Treacy missed high after Manteca goalie Ashlee Miller (four saves) deflected a free kick. Manteca’s defense, anchored by captain Jasmine Basuil, recorded its sixth clean sheet in seven league matches. The only goal the Buffaloes have given up in league came against Sierra in a 1-1 tie.

“I can’t say enough about our defense,” Coenenberg said. “They’ve kept us in these games where we’d have a slow start and then the offense finally comes through. They are the rock of the team back there.


Sierra 4, Weston Ranch 0

In Stockton, the Timberwolves (5-0-2, 16-0-4) exploded for three second-half goals to keep pace with league-leading Manteca.

Annisity Miller accounted for the lone goal in the first half off an assist from Yolanda Tavares. Callie Crain later assisted goals for Kindra Kiser and Yasmin Ballew.  Jadyn Shinn added goal on a penalty kick. 



East Union 5, Manteca 1

Madison Hutchison scored host Manteca’s only goal off a corner-kick cross from Daisy Barajas.