Bill Rozak

Sonora goalie Andrew Klatt didn't save his best for last. His best save came first.

Klatt's all out, sprawling save three minutes into Tuesday's soccer match against Lathrop helped Sonora earn a 0-0 tie at Dunlavy Field.

"It was dynamite!" said Wildcat head coach Lloyd Longeway of Klatt's save. "Andrew did a great job of deflecting that ball. He was straight sideways. With what he can do, he's exciting to watch."

The Wildcat senior co-captain used all of his 6-foot, 3-inch frame to get his fingertips on the ball.

"Their guy hit a nice shot at the far post," said Klatt, the owner of four clean sheets this season. "Thankfully I was able to get a little touch on it and push it wide. It would have been rough letting a goal go by in the first five minutes. That would've been real tough to come back from."

And it would have been difficult to come back from because the Spartans played tough defense and devoted high numbers to guarding their goal, which limited the Wildcat chances.

"Lathrop always play tight defense," Klatt said. "They drop a lot of numbers behind the ball which makes it hard to score. Gardner (Davis) and our whole defense stepped up. We played well. We had some opportunities and hopefully next time we can finish them."

Sonora did have some chances, including a Damien Carabello rocket from around 20 yards away that winked at the net as it traveled just wide of the right post.

The midfielder added another couple of shots in the second half and his offensive skill with the ball created several free kicks.

His partner in the midfield, Scott Liggett also wreaked havoc on Lathrop. He continually used his body to shield and dispossess Spartan ball handlers.

"Damien was all over the ball tonight," Longeway said. "He was very active in the midfield along with Scott."

"Klatt did an amazing job in goal and Scott and Damien did really well in the middle," said Wildcat co-captain Matt Howard.

Lathrop outshot Sonora 6-4 in the opening half, but the Wildcats created more opportunities in the second 40 minutes and finished with 14 shots to 12 for the Spartans.

Six minutes into the second half, Carabello hit a solid shot from distance. Four minutes later, Howard used some deft dribbling skills to get into the box and put a shot on net. Four minutes after that, the Cats had another chance in the box that they couldn't convert. With 12 minutes left, Wildcat forward Eric Gilliat also put a couple of shots on net.

Sonora is 2-2-1 in the Valley Oak League and 6-6-1 overall. With three teams from the league headed to playoffs, it's early, but the Wildcats feel they have a chance to be one of them.

"Playoffs was a goal during preseason and actually during summer," Klatt said. "We thought this year we could make a big push. Right now we're in the hunt, we've been playing well, we just need to keep it up."

"Playoffs would be cool if it comes, but we're just focusing on winning and scoring points," Howard said.

Sonora will host perennial league power Sierra (3-1-1 VOL)on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

"We played hard, I just really wish we could have scored a goal," Longeway said. "We've just gotta get that finishing touch on our operation. We tied, but I wish we would've got a win tonight. All-in-all, we have a nice team this year. But we're competing in a tough league.On Thursdaywe've got Sierra and we'll have to regroup. They'll be a tough challenge."