Sierra ded­i­cates clinch­ing win to for­mer team­mate

Manteca Bulletin - - Sports - By JONAMAR JAC­INTO

Osawaro, Vil­lasenor lead at­tack

His num­ber No. 11 is ironed onto the left sleeves of Sierra’s boys soc­cer jer­seys, but the mem­ory of Ed­die Aguilar weighs in the hearts of minds of the Tim­ber­wolves. The 2016 Man­teca Bulle

tin All-Area MVP has been a driv­ing force for the team since he passed away on Sept. 10, 2017 fol­low­ing a car ac­ci­dent in Ari­zona, where he was a fresh­man for­ward for the first-year Ot­tawa Univer­sity men’s soc­cer team. On Wed­nes­day, the T’wolves ded­i­cated their 3-1 Val­ley Oak League ti­tle-clinch­ing vic­tory over We­ston Ranch to him.

“It means a lot to all of us,” said cap­tain Car­los Men­dez, one of just six se­niors on this youth-laded squad. “This was a prom­ise that we made to Ed­die af­ter he passed away. We just tried our best in ev­ery

game and man­aged to get the (ti­tle).”

With sec­ond-place East Union, the reign­ing cham­pion, beat­ing Man­teca ear­lier in the night, Sierra (11-1-2 VOL, 15-4-3 over­all) needed to win to take sole pos­ses­sion of the ti­tle.

They did it with a six-minute scor­ing burst in the first half and held off a dan­ger­ous We­ston Ranch team (7-6-1, 7-13-3) that was play­ing for a fa­vor­able post­sea­son seed.

Sierra con­trolled much of the ac­tion in the first half, and Miguel Vil­lasenor got the T’wolves on board in the 10th minute on a break­away set up by a long goalie punt from Luis Acosta. Five min­utes later, im­pres­sive fresh­man Osayi Osawaro dou­bled the lead, blow­ing it past Francisco Vega (11 saves) af­ter split­ting the de­fense up the mid­dle.

Mo­ments later, Vil­lasenor sent a through ball to Osawaro for a rou­tine oneon-one.

Osawaro, who grew up in Italy, is a late­comer to the team af­ter he gained aca­demic el­i­gi­bil­ity. He has been a god­send for a team that lost one of its top play­mak­ers, mid­fielder Kevin Men­di­ola, to in­el­i­gi­bil­ity. Osawaro has scored seven goals in seven games.

“He came in late and we didn’t know much about him be­cause he’s a fresh­man,” Sierra head coach Joe Pires said. “We had seen him in practice and knew he would help the team, but he re­ally fit into that role as the tar­get with his big body. With every­one we al­ready had around him it just worked. Gain­ing him made a big dif­fer­ence.”

We­ston Ranch man­aged to give Sierra rea­son for worry de­spite the wide deficit. Devon Al­varenga scored the goal of the night in the 30th minute. He con­trolled a cross from Vi­dal Gar­cia, turned his back to the goal and con­nected for a pow­er­ful over­head strike.

Al­varenga led sev­eral scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in the sec­ond half, in­clud­ing three ac­cu­rate crosses from the left cor­ner that re­sulted in wide at­tempts.

“We’ve had a lit­tle slump here in the end (of the reg­u­lar sea­son),” We­ston Ranch coach Francisco Cis­neros said. “I think some of that may have been nerves at the start of this game, but then we set­tled down and showed we could play with the VOL champs.”

We­ston Ranch qual­i­fies for the Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion play­offs with its fourth-place fin­ish league. Both teams will find out where they’re seeded on Fri­day. For win­ning league, Sierra will com­pete in the SJS Di­vi­sion III bracket af­ter mount­ing a Cin­derella run to the Di­vi­sion IV fi­nal last sea­son.

Frosh-soph Sierra 7, We­ston Ranch 3 With two play­ers mov­ing up to the var­sity squad, the Tim­ber­wolves were able to avenge one of their league losses with a de­ci­sive win.

They were led by An­drew Bane­gas’ hat trick. Cooper Ruiz, Ma­teo Gar­cia-Mo­ran and Lorenzo Fatzer also scored goals. Ethan Rullen, Axel Rios, Francisco Be­cerra and Jor­dan Romero each con­trib­uted an as­sist.


TOP PHOTO: Miguel Vil­lasenor, left, and Osayi Osawaro cel­e­brate the first of three Sierra first-half goals dur­ing the Tim­ber­wolves’ 3-1 Val­ley Oak League vic­tory over vis­it­ing We­ston Ranch on Fri­day. Sierra clinched the out­right league ti­tle with the win. BOTTOM PHOTO: We­ston Ranch’s Nery Guerra col­lides with Sierra for­ward Osayi Osawaro (25) as they bat­tle for the 50-50 ball.


Je­sus Espinoza (11) con­trols the ball for We­ston Ranch in front of Sierra’s Miguel Vil­lasenor.

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