Oakdale varsity soccer may not be in the playoff hunt, but they were faced with a tough task of taking on the top two teams in the Valley Oak League (VOL) on the road during spring break. The team traveled to Manteca to take on the Lancers of East Union on Tuesday, April 22, and then returned to Manteca on Thursday, April 24 to play the Lady Buffaloes.
East Union, which entered the match with a perfect 13-0-0 record, suffered its first blemish as the Lady Mustangs and Lancers tied at one goal each. That gave Oakdale the satisfaction of handing East Union its first tie of the season. East Union struck first with an early goal within the first four minutes of the game to take the lead, 1-0. However, with the assist from Alexis Halsey, Danae Rose tied it up later in the first half. Both teams played tough defense throughout the remainder of the first half, and both were shut out in the final 40 minutes of play to result in a 1-1 tie. Oakdale’s goalkeeper Melissa Ibarra had five saves in the match. East Union entered the match in first place, and had defeated the Lady Mustangs in Oakdale 3-0 on March 27.
“The girls were focused and were very vocal about not wanting to lose to East Union heading into the match. They played all 80 minutes with passion, even after East Union scored early, they didn’t lose that passion. I’m proud of the way they conducted themselves,” varsity head coach Alfredo Quiroga said.
With the tie between Oakdale and East Union, the Lady Buffaloes of Manteca would take over first place in the VOL with a home victory over the suddenly resurging Lady Mustangs. The Lady Buffaloes entered the match riding a four game winning streak, while Oakdale had gone three matches without a loss.
Much like the Lady Mustangs’ previous match against East Union, Manteca found the net first and took a 1-0 lead. Oakdale’s Halsey scored on a shot from 35 yards out to tie it up in the first half. The two teams would head into the half knotted up at one goal each.
Unfortunately, soccer is a game of two halves and Manteca would outscore the Lady Mustangs 2-0 in the final 40 minutes of play to capture the 3-1 home victory. This has been Oakdale’s Achilles Heel throughout most of the season, their coach noted. Oakdale has been tied or had the lead after 40 minutes in four league games this season and dropped them all as they were outscored 7-0 in the second half of those four games.
“We have let games slip by us in the second half throughout the season, and that is something we will work on for next season,” Quiroga shared. “Manteca had a lot to play for; they’re a playoff team for a reason and with the momentum and home crowd supporting them, they won.”
Although the team went 0-1-1 over spring break, the varsity squad has played very well over the past few weeks, including the play of junior Alexis Halsey.
“She is one of the most consistent players on the roster, and has been all season,” Quiroga said. “She has a nice touch on the ball and power to go with it. It has shown all season, and this week was no exception. Her defensive play has been great all year; I’d say she’s one of the best in the league.”
The girls were scheduled to close out the season with Senior Night on Tuesday, April 29 in the rivalry game against Sonora. This was the final league game between the schools as Sonora will join the Mother Lode League next school year. The match was held after press time. Results of the final game of the season will be featured in the May 7 edition.