SFL neighbors set to clash for section soccer title

Oakmont, Granite Bay will meet for third time this season
By: Kurt Johnson, Press-Tribune sports editor
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The one thing that is certain heading into Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division II soccer final is that the Sierra Foothill League will be home to the section champion for the fifth successive season. The familiar face on the section scene is the Granite Bay Grizzlies, who won the title in 2006 and were eliminated in the semifinal one year ago. On Wednesday night, Steve Fischer’s crew controlled the field for the full 80 minutes, dropping Christian Brothers 3-0 at Folsom High School’s Prairie City Stadium to avoid a repeat of last year. Chris Gaschen scored two first half goals to lead the way for Granite Bay, but it was the thorough domination of the Grizzlies that was so impressive. Christian Brothers rarely crossed the center line in the first half, and Granite Bay took the rare step of having its goalkeeper warm up for the second half after Jeff Mann did not touch the ball during the first 40 minutes. “We are happy to have reached the final this year,” Fischer said. “This is where we felt we should have been last season, and we are looking forward to the game against Oakmont.” The Grizzlies will face their neighbors from Oakmont in the title game, as the Vikings knocked off the third SFL team to reach the semifinals, taking out Rocklin in a penalty kick shootout after a 0-0 tie through regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods. The Vikings are the new kid on the block at this level, having reached the postseason this year for the first time since 2003, and having won their first playoff game since 2002. After 100 minutes of thrilling, yet scoreless soccer, the Vikings outscored Rocklin 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout Wednesday night to advance to the finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. The length of the battle was no surprise to the participants or to anyone familiar with Sierra Foothill League soccer, as these two familiar foes have now played 420 minutes of soccer over the past two seasons (that is five full games plus two ten-minute overtime periods) with just one goal being scored in the run of play. In the first game of a semifinal doubleheader inside Prairie City Stadium at Folsom High School, Oakmont survived a relentless attack from the Thunder and lived to out-kick Rocklin from 12 yards out behind a pair of strong saves by goalie Brandon Vargas. Rocklin controlled much of the time on the ball, as the Vikings created a few scoring chances with the strong counterattack, but neither team was able to convert its limited scoring chances. The 0-0 score after 80 minutes of play led to a pair of 10-minute overtime periods. With the physical play heating up during the extra sessions, the referee let the players go, eschewing heavy use of the whistle and allowing the participants to decide the outcome between the lines. The overtime periods were largely exchanges of balls in the middle of the field, with occasional hard runs at the opposing defenders on each end, but few real scoring chances. The Vikings delivered in consistent fashion in the shootout, with four consecutive shooters burying the ball in the corner of the net to the right side of Rocklin goalie Zach Kammerer, while Vargas turned aside two Rocklin shot, one to his right and then one to his left side. Roy Pedro, Brent Lewis, Kody Duff and Robert Work made their kicks count in the shootout to carry the Vikings to the win. “We know we have our hands full in the next one,” Broers said. “Granite Bay is great on the ball and brings a strong ball control passing game. We gave them a great battle the last time we saw them, so hopefully we can build on that.” The all-SFL section final kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday in Folsom.