Two second half goals by Oakdale followed by two retaliation yellow cards by rival Sonora was the story of the regular season finale 2-0 win last week for the varsity soccer Mustangs.
Oakdale, who had clinched the Valley Oak League championship prior to the game against the Wildcats, had several first half scoring opportunities before pulling away in the second half.
“Against Sonora we created a lot scoring opportunities and dominated this game even though they have probably the best goalie in league,” said Oakdale head coach Alfredo Quiroga.
Oakdale’s Gabriel Ramirez and Juan Rangel scored off assists from Trenton Pierson and Michael Arauza in the second half of play. Sonora, which finished the season at 7-13-1 overall, couldn’t keep pace with Oakdale’s passing game and grew frustrated late in the game resulting in two personal fouls on Mustang players. The Mustangs improved to 16-4-5 on the year and 11-1-2 in league, finishing several points ahead of the league runner-up and good enough for one of the top seeds in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, which begin Thursday night with a home game against the winner of the American Canyon-Ceres play-in game. That contest was due on Tuesday, after The Leader went to press.
“The guys are really eager to have their first (playoff) game,” Quiroga said. “We did a little bit of conditioning Friday then we had a barbecue at the field; everyone is really determined to play well for this first game at home.”
Central Valley of Ceres is the top seed, followed by Oakdale, Vanden, Christian Brothers, Benicia, Rio Americano, Manteca and Lincoln.
“Central Valley of Ceres was very good,” Quiroga said. “But our team is ready for the challenge and when they beat us it was in a tournament game with shortened halves and we dominated the possession if not the score.”
The Mustangs lost to Central Valley 2-1 at the Gregori Invitational on Sept. 6. The Hawks are 20-1 on the season, ranked #15 in the nation and second in California. They scored 92 goals and allowed eight, dominated the Western Athletic Conference with a 12-0 mark and their only loss of the season came to 19-4-3 Pitman. They defeated Los Banos 19-0 then 15-1 and shut out Central Catholic in a combined two games 23-0. Senior Omar Orozco has 41 goals in 22 games played and Ozzie Ramos has 30 goals in 20 games.
The second-seeded Oakdale offense is led by captain Davis Harper who has 25 goals in 20 games played for the Mustangs, with emerging sophomore striker Austin Burke, scores of midfielders and defenders and a pair of goalies contributing to the team’s success.
Entering the playoffs behind the strong play of core seniors, the Mustangs also boast a goal-tending tandem of Jake Hicks and Zeke Spani, strong passing and team chemistry, good overall conditioning and contributions from both the junior and sophomore classes, with freshmen also on the roster. Seniors are midfielder Pierson, defender Cody Trapp, forward Harper, defender Johnny Torres and midfielders Onassis Becerra, Oskar Nilsson and Harry Harris.