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Cougars Get Past Sierra For Soccer Victory
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Losing a heartbreaker on the road, the Cougar soccer team bounced back with a win at home to split their games for the week.

Tuesday, they traveled to Manteca and came out on the losing end of a 1-0 decision.

"It was brutal," said head coach Chris Oliveira. "It was 1-0 the wrong way. They scored in the second half, about 10 to 15 minutes in, there was a loose ball in the box and they just put it in."

The Cougars had several chances to score against the Manteca defense, the coach added, but had trouble finishing on those opportunities.

"We definitely had some shots that we should have finished," he explained. "We had at least three or four legitimate shots that should have been goals but weren't."

In the first half, Gui Carneiro played in goal for the Cougars and had a spectacular save along with a handful of routine stops. Rogelio Pantoja played in goal for the second half and allowed just the one score, stopping a few other Manteca shots.

"Our defense has been playing real well so our goalies have had it pretty easy back there the last couple of games," Oliveira said, noting that the defense will often touch the ball back to the keeper for the clearing kick.

Hosting Sierra on Thursday, the Cougars put one in the win column with a hard fought 2-1 decision.

Taking the lead about 20 minutes in to the first half, the goal came on a kick from Saul Plascencia off the assist from Ricardo Paez.

"He drilled it from 20 yards out," Oliveira said of Plascencia. "Then with about five minutes left in the half, Sierra tied it on a direct kick."

While goalie Pantoja apologized to the coach for letting the shot get past, Oliveira said the keeper did all he could but the shot was placed too well - and too high - to stop. It sailed over Pantoja's outstretched hands and to the back of the net to knot the score at 1-1.

Escalon got the go ahead goal midway through the second half, then protected that lead for the victory.

"The second half was real similar to the first," said Oliveira. "Our goal came when Paez dropped it back, this time it was Juan Gutierrez who got the goal."

Oliveira said the game also marked the first time he has had all his starting players suited up at the same time and was able to go with his "first team" rotation.

"They had a chance to work together as a unit," he explained. "We got the train on the right track."

High marks went to Paez, who set several teammates up for shots, while the defense also played solidly. Pantoja was in goal for the first half, Esteban Collazo filled the keeper post in the second half.

The JV squad, meanwhile, beat Manteca on Tuesday by a 4-1 final, then lost to Sierra by the same 4-1 score on Thursday.

This week, the Cougars kick off the Trans-Valley League campaign, hosting Livingston on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 4 p.m.