“We’re not sharing. Tomorrow it’s ours.”
That thought, spoken by Oakdale High assistant soccer coach Rob Micheletti, was the theme of Oakdale’s post-game huddle after the Lady Mustangs had outlasted Manteca for a 2-1 varsity victory on Monday, May 2.
The win effectively knocked the Buffaloes out of playoff contention and guaranteed Oakdale (10-2-1) its first-ever Valley Oak League title in program history. They had a chance to claim the honor outright when the Mustangs closed their season with lowly Sonora (1-9-2) on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time.
“I feel we have been the best team in league this year, but at times we were betrayed by our lack of confidence (loss to Sierra, loss to Kimball),” Oakdale coach Alfredo Quiroga said on Monday. “It’s nice to be in a situation where our fate is in our own hands.”
Fate found Jill Kahler at the Manteca net twice late in the game after a 0-0 deadlock had both sidelines nervous in the final minutes of the game.
Kahler stole a Manteca throw-in with 12 minutes to play and tore down the left sideline before caroming a shot off Manteca keeper, Jimi Guibor. The ball fell to a charging Bryanna Welch, who quickly deflected a chip shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead that ignited the Oakdale bench and big late night crowd.
Four minutes later, Kahler streaked down the same sideline before dashing to the net and easing a ball past Guibor for an unassisted score to secure the win.
Oakdale controlled possession for most of the remaining eight minutes, faltering only when a hand ball in the box awarded Sammy Morris the lone Buffalo score on a penalty kick in the final few seconds of the game.
“It was nerve-racking when we were tied, and I knew we had to pick it up,” Kahler said afterwards. “It was so exciting to know that after all these years we have finally done it.”
Oakdale goalkeeper Morgan Kinyon slipped in her diving save attempt on the last-second penalty kick, but was spectacular throughout the contest to knock down several Manteca pushes toward the goal and block seven total shots within the frame. The William Joseph University-bound goalkeeper was huge in stopping repeated Manteca attempts on goal in a shooting flurry to open the second half.
“I was really nervous but I knew we could do it,” Kinyon said. “I have been practicing really hard at stopping shots on goal and I was able to do that today.”
Oakdale will kick off the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs on May 17, likely at home. The D-IV title game is expected to take place on May 21.
Like their older counterparts, the Oakdale JV girls zeroed in on the league championship, taking some revenge against the only team to have beaten them this season, when they suffered a 3-2 loss earlier on the road in Manteca. On Monday, the JV squad pummeled the Manteca net in a very physical contest, topping the visiting Buffaloes by a 5-1 final.
It took almost the whole first half to break through, Danae Rose finally sending one home on the assist from Izzy Arellano, the play set up nicely by defender Kori Altmann. Second half scoring saw the same trio connect again for a 2-0 Oakdale lead, then Arellano got her first goal of the game off an assist from a Brittany Carpenter throw in to make it 3-0.
Manteca then got one in, sending the shot over the pulled up defense, but the Oakdale JV answered back quickly, Arellano sending a through ball to Kelsea Rodriguez, with Rodriguez dribbling in and beating the keeper to make it 4-1. Final goal came from Altmann, playing on the wing late in the second half, as she corralled a goal kick, taken by the Manteca netminder, and sent it back where it came from, before the goalie could get back to her spot.
Oakdale also took a road win at Weston Ranch on Wednesday, April 27 by a 5-0 final, with goals from Alyssa Perigen, Katelyn Jackson, Kendra Knowles, Tori Coffey and Izzy Arellano. Notching assists were Arellano and Perigen (3).
Monday’s win put the JV girls at 11-1-1 in league, a few points better than Sierra in the race for the title. If they won at Sonora on Tuesday (past Leader press time) they would also be outright VOL champions.
Oakdale Leader editor Marg Jackson contributed to this report.