DIXON — When Sierra High scored just 22 seconds into the match it seemed like there was no doubt it would move on, but reality was far from that as the Timberwolves outlasted the Capital Valley League champion Dixon Rams 2-1 in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.
Sierra (17-7-3) did everything it needed to do to win the match, stunning the crowd on their way to their seats when Braian Gomez lined a brilliant header passed the leaping Dixon goalie mere moments after the opening whistle.
The goal was the perfect way for the Timberwolves to open the postseason, but Dixon’s Eduardo Ramirez knotted the score with eight minutes left until halftime.
“It was good to start off like that, but I really felt it hurt us,” Sierra head coach Jose Montes said. “We got the goal and kind of took our foot off the gas. It took us a while to recover.
“They were a good team who passed the ball extremely well.”
Dixon, which hadn’t lost a match since Sept. 27, kicked its offense into gear and came out shooting in the second half, but Sierra’s defense answered the challenge.
The Timberwolves would take the lead for good when Gomez returned the favor to Pacheco, catching him in mid-stride as the speedster raced to the goal sending a perfect shot passed a diving Dixon keeper.
Dixon would fight, getting off several shots on goal including one at an unattended goal, but time would not stop for the match or the Rams’ season.
“I think the important thing was Sierra came out of the gate very quickly,” Dixon head coach Sergio Perez said. “We just weren’t focused. We knew No. 10 (Gomez) was going to be their key player and he came out and capitalized in that first minute. That put us on our heels.
“Sierra deserves to move on and I hope they come home with a section title.”
Sierra will venture into familiar territory Thursday when it faces Valley Oak League foe Ceres on the road.
The Bulldogs knocked off Whitney 4-1, setting up the third match of the season for Sierra and Ceres. Central Valley defeated defending champion River City 4-2, to become the third of four semifinal representatives of the VOL.
The Bulldogs took both VOL season meetings with Sierra — 3-1 and 1-0 — and will come out focused, with a victory leaving either squad one win away from the section championship match.
Ceres lost the title match a season ago, falling to River City on penalty kicks to close its 2008 season. It will take another complete team effort for the Timberwolves to advance to the semifinals.
“We didn’t look good as far as pretty soccer,” Montes said. “But as a whole, we’ll keep that in mind so we can put on a good show Thursday.
“We’ll try and continue then and see if we can make it to the big show.”
To contact Jagada Chambers, e-mail email@example.com, or call (209) 249-3543.