Sierra High’s playoff push got off on the right foot Tuesday evening with a blast off the left foot of Sydnee Canales.
For the second time this season, Canales burned Oakdale with a long-range drive. Her shot from the edge of the 18-yard box in the 75th minute catapulted Sierra to a 2-1 victory at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
The three points are crucial to the Timberwolves’ postseason hopes, especially with Valley Oak League leader and still-unbeaten East Union looming on Thursday. The top three teams at season’s end qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Sierra (5-2-1, 10-4-2) is fourth, one game back of Manteca and Kimball in the loss column.
The Lancers (7-0) owned Sierra in their first meeting, surging out to a 6-0 lead in the half en route to a 6-1 victory. Pires hopes his team can roll Tuesday’s momentum into an unlikely home win on Thursday.
“We’re going to battle till the end. Now we got to play a team that hasn’t lost. We have to be prepared to play a much better game than we played the last time,” Pires said. “Our goal is to be ready to play and put it all out on the field.
“As we get points, especially from teams like Manteca, Oakdale and Kimball, that gives my team confidence to play with any team.”
Having Canales on the roster doesn’t hurt, either.
For the second time this season, the senior captain stunned the Mustangs with a rocket shot. In their first meeting, Canales seized the eventual game-winner midway through the second half on a 30-yard shot.
This time, the game-winner came from the edge of the penalty area. Though it covered less ground, it was no less dramatic. The shot was set up by Daisy Rivera, who collected a short free kick from Marissa LaQuaglia.
Canales separated herself from one defender, creating just enough space to get off a shot. It was her 13th goal of the season — tops on the Timberwolves roster.
“Those players that have that ability to take those shots -- to shoot low and hit it with power -- that’s really great to have on your side,” said Pires, whose side owned a 16-10 shot advantage. “It was a very well-run play and I was glad they were able to execute it.”
Naomi Nunis continued her return from a major knee injury. The senior forward scored the equalizer for the Timberwolves in the 25th minute on a corner kick from Canales. Nunis has eight goals in 13 matches.
Pires said Nunis isn’t yet 100 percent, but playing her way into shape. Her experience alone has been a boon for a relatively young roster.
“With her being a senior, with her experience, it’s huge to have her back,” Pires added. “She’s slowly getting better. Each game, I see her getting stronger and stronger. She helps our attack.”
Oakdale’s Izzy Arellano struck first in the 15th minute. Arellano collected a poor clearance by Sierra and slotted her shot past goalie Emma Broderick (10 saves) to give the Mustangs (3-4, 4-7-2) a 1-0 lead.
East Union 8, Lathrop 0
Isela Rivera completed her hat trick in the first half, scoring in the ninth, 16th and 26th minutes and twice off headers on corner kicks at Dino Cunial Field.
“It seems like every corner kick East Union has finds Isela’s head,” Lathrop coach Gabe Padilla said.
His Spartans (2-6, 5-11-1) were overwhelmed in the opening half as they found themselves in a five-goal hole by the break. Maddie Yslava, Meghan Wallace, Taylor Rose, Arianna Cardenas and Ally Lecce also scored for the still-unbeaten Lancers (8-0, 11-0).
Kimball 4, Manteca 1
All the scoring was done in the second half, as Abby Dyer and Samantha Tran each scored twice for host Kimball (6-1, 7-2).
Manteca (3-2-1, 10-3-1) looks to regroup Thursday when it takes on last-place Weston Ranch.
Ripon Christian 5,
The Knights (7-1, 11-2-1) trailed twice in the first half against a Gustine squad (4-5, 4-7) it previously routed by an 8-0 margin.
Freshman Abby Buitrago finished with three goals, while Teagan Manus added one to go with two assists. Rachel Faure capped the final score in the 73rd minute.
“The girls came into halftime knowing they didn’t play up to their potential,” RC coach Kevin Tameling said. “While I never like to see the team play poorly, it created some adversity that we had to overcome.”
East Union 9, Lathrop 0
Maria Andrade buried two goals in what was otherwise a balanced effort by East Union’s offense.
Also scoring were Julia Villagon, Clarissa Andrade, Daisy Perez, Rosalia Ravelo, Skyler Tracy, Brittney Moneyham and Alexia Torres.