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Grizzlies blank Timberwolves in soccer battle for first

By: Brett Ransford/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Granite Bay High School defeated Woodcreek 4-0 on Friday in a decisive match between unbeaten Sierra Foothill League soccer teams.

The Grizzlies (15-3-3, 6-0-1 SFL) scored twice in the first half on second-chance opportunities against a Woodcreek squad that owned the offensive possession in much of the first 15 minutes. Granite Bay scored two in the second half in an eight-minute spurt.

Granite Bay now has the inside track to the SFL championship. The Grizzlies hold a combined 8-1 goals advantage against their next three opponents.

Tommy Thompson, who didn’t play in the 1-1 tie against Woodcreek on Sept. 28, put the Timberwolves into a 1-0 hole in the 10th minute Friday.

Thompson’s goal and one by Austin Ketchersid in the 41st were scored on rebounds following a save by Woodcreek keeper Mitchell Brill, who saved his team five times in the first half and another seven times in the second.

While the Timberwolves (7-6-4, 5-1-1) got off eight shots in the first, they were held to two in the second and lost the possession game.

Brill made a diving save, one of many, against Tanner Thompson in the 46th, only to lose a goal to Dominic Scotti, who scored on a header in the 54th. Tanner Thompson assisted the goal on a free kick from about 35 yards out.

Second-half substitution Diego Garcia finished the scoring with a strike in the 66th minute in which he eluded defenders in the midfield and spotted a left-footed shot into the far-side netting.

The Timberwolves may have lost a chance to play at home in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. They have matches remaining against Rocklin, Nevada Union (3-3-1) and Del Oro (1-4-2).

“If we’re going to win a league championship this season, it’s out of our hands now,” Woodcreek coach Chris Branson said. “If we get a chance to see Granite Bay again, it will be in a different place at a different time, and anything can happen. We can play with them. It’s just a matter of getting an early goal and making them play from behind instead of us.”

Keeping teams scoreless has been the other side to Granite Bay’s offensively stacked team.

Rocklin and Del Oro couldn’t score against the Grizzlies, but Pablo Gutierrez’s squad at Roseville lost a 2-1 match two weeks ago and Nevada Union put one through in their 4-1 loss Wednesday.

Granite Bay coach Steve Fischer said playing for championships is always the goal, but getting a good seed in the playoffs can be ever more satisfying and necessary.

“If you can get a number one seed in the playoffs, you could be playing two home games before you get to the final, and that’s a nice advantage,” Fischer said. “Between the travel and the quality of the field, having home field makes a difference.”