LATHROP – In what shaped up to be two well-coached programs vying to win their Valley Oak League opener, the improved Lathrop Spartans soccer club battled reigning champion East Union to a 2-2 tie Tuesday.
The Lancers netted an instant goal in the game’s third minute and broke a 1-1 tie five minutes into the second half. But in both situations Lathrop didn’t flinch, getting their first game-tying goal from Felipe Gomez and their biggest goal on a powerful 15-yarder from Andy Garcia.
“They came in thinking we’d already won the game before we played,” East Union head coach Victor Polanco said. “Like I told them, we’ll never win a game before the end of the game.
“They just came in too confident thinking they had this game.”
East Union flourished on sideline throw-ins from senior captain Jordan Kron. Kron would effortlessly heave passes in the box, sending Lancers crashing to the box with a shot at a point. Lathrop goalie Omar Guzman answered all chances and his Spartan teammates were huge helping out in the box.
Lathrop definitely had plans to gain some attention early on in the league season. The Spartans are coming off a preseason-ending tournament championship at Ripon Christian and feel they will compete in the VOL. The Spartans got a goal from Felipe Gomez in the first half and another from Andy Garcia in the second.
The Spartans surrendered a goal in the opening minutes of both hands, caught tough luck on a handful of scoring opportunities and definitely didn’t help their cause on East Union’s final goal. Yet, there they were scrambling in the game’s waning moment looking for a goal that would have surely caught the league’s attention.
“I’d like to think I’m happy with the result,” Lathrop head coach Lenny Lial said. “They were the top team in the league last year and we were at the bottom. We’ve had some momentum, so I think we’re just looking to keep things going.”
Lathrop played with a sense of urgency throughout the contest, matching the Lancers in effort and demanding physicality out of East Union. Each moment East Union was able to display a characteristic that made it such a dominant club a season ago, Lathrop answered showing that they are no longer the Spartans from a year ago.
“They definitely have a plan,” Lial said of East Union. “They have a distinct plan; when you talk about the long throw in and that’s a weakness we’ve learned about ourselves. We gave up a goal and it was from the fact that we just fell asleep on the first one.
“If you take away that gimmie goal we maybe…”
East Union 4, Lathrop 2
The East Union Lancers sophomore club opened the VOL schedule in the right direction, beating the Lathrop Spartans 4-2 Tuesday.
The Lancers will try and make it two straight when they meet up with the Sierra Timberwolves Thursday.