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Rocklin gets win as Whitney falls 1-0

Wildcats optimistic about 2011 campaign
By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Rocklin High School’s boys soccer team visited Whitney High School and picked up a 1-0 victory, last week, to improve to 4-5-1 in preseason. It was Whitney’s first lost in four matches. “Our season has been kind of a rough start,” said Grant DePue, now in his fourth year of coaching the Thunder varsity. Rocklin has enjoyed a strong soccer program in the past, winning three section titles in the last five years. DePue said his team has had to practice on a soccer field, which he said makes it difficult to work on spacing and timing. “Soccer is one of those games where you need all 11 (players) firing on the same page,” said DePue. “I think we have talented soccer players, it’s a matter right now of finding the right system of play to work with.” Before tying Folsom, 2-2, Sept. 9, the Thunder had lost five in a row. They started the preseason, Aug. 26, and picked up three wins in a row. They finished up preseason play at Lodi, Tuesday, and open Sierra Foothill League play, Friday, hosting Del Oro. The Wildcats have played well, but haven’t had a lot of preseason games. They defeated Capital Athletic League opponent Antelope, 2-0, in a preseason contest, and also beat Center and Foothill. Rocklin’s goal was only the second scored on the Wildcats so far. “Rocklin is the most competitive team that we’ve played so far, said Whitney soccer head coach Chad Smith. “We came into the game a little more defensive minded than we needed to be. We could have been a little more attacking minded and played with a little more confidence from the start.” Smith said some of his players had to sit out in the early going of the game against the Thunder. The two clubs battled as one would imagine two rivals would, and Smith said the outcome could have been different had he a full roster from the beginning. “This was the first game that we were strongly challenged,” he said. “I think the game could have easily been zero, zero; one, one, or we could have won one to zero.” Fortunately for DePue, the Golden Eagles of Del Oro haven’t fared much better this season, in fact, worse. They’ve managed to earn one tie to go along with four losses. The Eagles last preseason game was a 3-1 loss to Antelope. “We have soccer players,” DePue said of his 2011 squad. “We’re a bit undersized and our movement patterns and work ethic isn’t there yet. The team chemistry isn’t there yet, but luckily it’s not playoffs right now; we have time to get there.” Whitney could face an uphill battle with 2010 CAL champion El Camino sitting at 8-0 in preseason play. The Eagles have scored 29 goals while giving up only one. That aside, no other CAL club has more than three wins so far in 2011. Whitney was scheduled to play Rio Americano, Sept. 29, and then host El Camino, Oct. 4. “We had a good preseason,” said Smith. “We won games in dominating fashion.” Rocklin _ The Thunder battled Folsom to a 2-2 draw, Sept. 12. Senior Stephen Hakala scored the fourth goal of his season in the contest, and sophomore Grant Mook scored his second. The Thunder begins SFL play, Friday, hosting Del Oro. Additional reporting by Andrew Hazard/ E-mail Placer Herald Sports at jiml@goldcountrymedia.com