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Competitive Soccer - Escalon Players Bolster Oakdale Travel Team
Forward Jackie Valeriano, center, has to pull up just short as the Ajax keeper gets her hands on the ball during Saturday afternoon action in the Mid Summer Classic in Turlock. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

A trio of soccer players from Escalon, all members of the 2014 Trans-Valley League champion Lady Cougars, are keeping their skills sharp during the off season. Jaylyne Serpa, Vanessa Kualapai and Jackie Valeriano are all suiting up for the Oakdale Insanity U19 girls competitive travel team and helped the squad to a second place showing this weekend in Turlock.

Serpa, a return player for the Insanity, served as a team captain for the July 19 and 20 Mid Summer Classic Tournament. Kualapai and Valeriano just joined the travel team this season, playing with a roster that includes players from Oakdale, Riverbank and Modesto in addition to Escalon.

The round robin tournament for the U19 age bracket featured Elk Grove Elite, Modesto Ajax United Elite, Fresno Metro United and Merced United along with the Oakdale Insanity.

Game one on Saturday saw the Oakdale team score midway through the first half, Serpa notching the assist on the squad’s first goal of the season. They added another tally in the second half while keeping Elk Grove off the board, winning 2-0.

Saturday afternoon they took on Fresno and scored early and often, putting up a huge 9-1 victory. Valeriano had a goal and an assist in the game and the Insanity built up a 5-0 lead by halftime.

Sunday morning the squad faced off with the Ajax United and fell behind 1-0, coming back with a goal four minutes later to knot the game at 1-1. Second half action saw the Ajax strike in the first two minutes, going up 2-1, with the Insanity rallying late for the tying score. Valeriano added an assist on the equalizer.

The round robin tournament format and points total meant the Oakdale game with Merced on Sunday afternoon would determine the tourney winner and the hard-fought contest saw injuries, a red card, an ejection and the Insanity squad suffering a tough 4-2 loss.

Oakdale keeper Melissa Ibarra took a hard shot from a Merced player while attempting a save, clotheslined to the ground, while Serpa took a solid elbow to the mouth late in the contest, forcing her to leave the game.

Valeriano put the Insanity ahead 1-0 to start the contest, just 30 seconds in, with Merced tying it up at the 10-minute mark. Two minutes later, Merced regained the lead, but Serpa set up Oakdale teammate Danae Rose – who had 10 goals over the four games – to tie the game at 2-2.

A late first half penalty kick put Merced up 3-2 and they added a fourth goal late in the second half. The Insanity at that point had lost a defender to a red card, frustration setting in by what players and spectators saw as several non-calls by the officials – including the plays that left Ibarra and Serpa bruised and bloodied. One parent was also ejected from the field and the Insanity battled but fell short, with Merced going on to post a 4-0 mark and take first place with 37 total points. Oakdale finished second with 24 with a 2-1-1 record, followed by third place Elk Grove with 19, fourth place Ajax with 16 and Fresno Metro in fifth place with two points.

Kualapai saw playing time on defense and at midfield, with Valeriano filling a role at the forward position. Serpa, primarily a midfielder, also stepped in briefly on defense and had some solid offensive rushes during the weekend.

Coach Brian Orr said he is pleased with Serpa’s return and the addition of the two new Escalon players, as they bring plenty of skills to the pitch, and have meshed well with the other team members.

“All of the girls played hard the entire weekend,” Orr noted. “I was very proud of their teamwork and determination.”

The girls are scheduled to play next in the Dublin Tournament, Aug. 9 and 10.