ESCALON — The goal for Sierra in its last non-league match of the season wasn’t just to go into Valley Oak League action with a .500 record, but to do so in impressive fashion.
Head coach Jose Montes was ecstatic over his Timberwolves’ play, which resulted in a one-sided 3-1 victory over Trans Valley League contender Escalon.
Sierra is now 5-5, one victory better than last year’s win total.
“I’m happy,” Montes said. “I thought we dominated the whole game, and our defense contained them pretty good. We didn’t give them very many looks.”
Adding to the excitement was the return of the Timberwolves’ top forward, Ricky Pacheco, who suffered a knee injury two weekends ago.
Montes described him to be “a little bit off,” but it didn’t take long for Pacheco to leave his mark on the game. In the 17th minute, Pacheco rifled in a volley from the top of the 18-yard penalty line to break the scoreless tie.
Later in the opening half, Eric Noriega sent a pretty through ball to Braian Gomez. Jose Barba capped Sierra’s scoring in the second half, which came off a deflection of Gomez’s initial shot.
Montes cleared the bench for the remainder of the game and Sierra didn’t miss a beat, though Escalon did manage to drop in its only goal during the final minutes. Escalon was held to just three shot attempts in the second half.
It was a nice momentum builder for what’s to come: A regular-season opener against defending VOL champion Central Valley in Ceres on Monday.
“If we want to do something good in league, we have to get at least a point (tie) from them,” Montes said.
In Modesto, the Knights improved to 5-2-1 with goals coming from Scott Faure, Dylan Van Vliet and Steve Vander Molen. Cody Kepler aided the cause with a pair of assists, while Ben DeRuiter recorded three saves.
In Lodi, despite the lopsided nature of the outcome, the Buffaloes were able to spread the field and move the ball better and control possession, said head coach Justin Coenenberg. But there were far too many defensive breakdowns to overcome.
The Tigers led 5-0 at half.
Manteca kicks off Valley Oak League play Monday at Ceres.