Wildcats start PVL play 1-0-1 in boys soccer

By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Whitney High’s varsity boys soccer team hosted El Dorado on Monday and tied 1-1 as both teams scored in the second half. Eirik Sterri scored for the Wildcats (3-2-2 overall, 1-0-1 in the Pioneer Valley League.) Whitney continued PVL play with a match at Mesa Verde today. It will host Placer at 3:30 p.m. next Monday. The Wildcats won 2-0 at Lincoln (0-7, 0-1) in the PVL opener on Sept. 16. Whitney junior TJ Papenfuss scored on an assist from Alex Donofrio to break a scoreless tie in the 75th minute. Senior teammate Jordan Gibbs scored an unassisted goal, off a steal, about four minutes later. Whitney also had three goals disallowed earlier in the match; two for being offsides and the other for having a player enter the 18-yard box during a penalty kick. “It was back and forth and we just couldn’t get our offense clicking,” said Javier Banuelos, who has coached Lincoln for 10 years. “We are slowly learning offensively. We have a lot of new faces and getting the system down is taking a long time.” Whitney coach Rich Donofrio liked how his team responded to the goals not being allowed. “They work hard and that game was a testament to their work ethic,” he said. “They were frustrated having three goals called back but we just kept working.” Lincoln was hit hard by a large graduating class last season. “This is the longest (it has taken to get that first win or tie), it’s the first time that it’s almost completely a whole new team,” Banuelos said. “Usually half of the team is returning and the other half is new but this year (because of a huge graduating class) there are so many new players that have come up to join the team.” Donofrio also has a young team. “We had a really challenging preseason, we played some really good teams, but it’s relatively a new group,” Donofrio said. “We only have five seniors (returning from last year) so we’ve had some boys move up from JV and some transfer in and we are not really used to playing together. We still have a ways to go from what I see and what I want to see.” The transfers are Alex Donofrio from Del Oro (Rich Donofrio’s son), Gabriel Fletcher from northeast California and Brian Ramanis from Lincoln. Rocklin The Thunder went 1-1 as they started Sierra Foothill League play last week. Rocklin (10-3-1 overall) played Roseville on Tuesday and will host Oakmont at 3:30 p.m. Thursday before taking a week off from matches because of a bye. Rocklin beat Woodcreek in the SFL opener Sept. 15 but lost 3-1 at Granite Bay on Sept. 17. Granite Bay won the SFL and the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division II title last year. Both teams relied heavily on the play of their midfielders as the contest came down to control of the ball and the ability to serve it into scoring territory. “The war was at midfield,” Granite Bay coach Steve Fischer said. “We have been working hard at our midfield defense and how to operate in the transition. I have seen great progress over the last week.” Rocklin coach Grant Depue felt that his team lost the fight at midfield during the first half before finding its legs after the break. “Granite Bay just seems to have our number,” Depue said. “They made the right adjustments before the game to shut down our midfield in the first half. We were not mentally focused and did not hustle or communicate at all in the first half. Second half we played much better, much more like our style of a fast attack.” Despite its struggles in the middle, the Thunder used a strong defense to keep itself in the contest. Central defender Conor Delaney, flanked by Anthony Salazar and Scott Moller, combined to keep Rocklin solid in the back. Junior Thunder midfielder Sean Kinsella delivered a quick finish on a free ball to score Rocklin’s lone goal late in the match. -Kurt Johnson contributed to this report