Cats rip Jags, one win from VOL crown

Vongni Yang, The Union Democrat

With an 18-9 win over the Kimball JaguarsTuesdayon senior night, the Sonora Wildcats are one victory away from clinching at least a share of the Valley Oak League title.

The Wildcats outshot the Jaguars 33-18 with seniors Spencer Lyons and Bence Bognar each scoring five goals.

"It's always nice to finish with a win," said Wildcat head coach Matt Personius. "Our guys definitely deserved the win. They've worked really hard this year. They played well tonight, finished well, and I'm real happy with how they played."

Lyons, too, was proud of the Wildcats for closing out the seniors' career with a win at home.

"It feels great, the team played well," Lyons said. "Everyone worked really hard, and we got this victory for the whole team. It wasn't just a couple of individual players. It was everybody."

Sonora got off to a fast start with four goals in the first few minutes. Lyons put the Wildcats on the scoreboard with an early goal in the first minute, and Gabe Runte followed that with two goals sandwiched between an Ian Burkhart score.

Kimball answered, but after the opening quarter Sonora led 6-2 as Lyons found the back of the net two more times.

But Kimball did not go away.

The Jaguars netted three goals in a four-minute span to cut the Wildcats' lead to 6-5 with3:50to play in the second quarter.

And the Wildcats, realizing a league championship was on the line, did not let down.

Burkhart, a senior, added his second of four goals in the match to start a Sonora rally. Lyons rifled another and Burkhart drew a 5-meter shot that Runte calmly slotted into goal. Less than 20 seconds later, Burkhart, again, connected on goal to give the Wildcats a commanding 10-5 lead entering halftime.

"We started a little slow, but we really picked it up," Personius said. "Our second half was much better. We had a lot of players contributing offensively, and on defense, it wasn't perfect. It was decent through the game, at times very good. We did a good job on our counterattacks."

The Wildcat defense clamped down in the third and fourth quarters, allowing just four goals the rest of the way. Goalkeeper Kahale Warring recorded nine saves.

Bognar, a senior foreign exchange student from Hungary, went on a scoring streak with all five of his goals coming in the last two quarters. Burkhart, Kyle Proctor and Lyons all added a second-half goal.

"Overall, I'm real pleased with the way our team is playing this time of season," Personius said. "I think that in some ways, we are really hitting our stride. We have a lot of room to improve, and I think that given the foundation that we already have, we might improve a lot just in the next couple of weeks as we lead up to section."

Sonora (13-8, 4-1 VOL) is tied with Ripon in a race for the VOL crown. The Wildcats lost by one, 12-11, at home onSept. 24and beat the Indianslast Thursday, by one, 9-8 on the road.

The Wildcats have not captured a league championship since 2007.

"We're really evenly matched teams," Personius said. "So, whoever gets that, deserves it."

Personius' squad will close its regular season against league rival Oakdale, who they demolished earlier this month 13-6, on Halloween at Oakdale.

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The Union Democrat
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