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Grizzlies look to settle an old score

New-look Granite Bay team has found many ways to win
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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One year ago at this time, the Granite Bay High soccer team was entering the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs on a high. Fresh off of a dominating run through the Sierra Foothill League, the senior-led Grizzlies were expecting to close out their season with a section title. Unfortunately, Granite Bay ran into a roadblock when missed chances cost it a semifinal game against Oak Ridge. “My players remember last year very well,” said Granite Bay coach Chris Roberts. “I don't let them forget because I never forget. They're amazed at the details that I can remember from games in the past. I remember all of the goal scoring opportunities we had and let slip through our fingers. I remember the flurry of goal scoring chances that came in the last 10 minutes as Oak Ridge dropped back defensively. I remember near miss after near miss. Lots of ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could've been’.” While Roberts insists this week is not about revenge, he hopes that remembering last season will serve as inspiration for this year’s team as it seeks to answer the postseason bell. Many of the key players from last year are gone, and a few of this year’s stars (Tasha Hartford and Chelsea Putnam to name two) are out with injuries, but the Grizzlies have found ways to win just enough to reach the playoffs. Kayla Karlsson has been a leader in the Granite Bay defense, and Monica Tingley has been asked to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the midfield and up top, but it will take every member of this team to earn playoff wins. Now, the team that eliminated them last year is the Grizzlies’ first round opponent this season. “Having played them last year, we have a good understanding of their strengths,” Roberts said. “Last year, Domenichelli and Mercik were the two players who gave us the most trouble, but they are a strong team from top to bottom.” This is not the same high-scoring Granite Bay team that took to the pitch last year, but it seems to find goals where it needs them. “This year, no one has really taken off with goal scoring or assists,” Roberts said. “It's well rounded with everyone contributing. However, our goal output is definitely down from last season.” As the Grizzlies prepare for Friday’s 3:30 p.m. start in El Dorado Hills, it is the intangibles that Roberts wants to focus on, along with the set plays that seem to come up so big in the postseason. “I have found that in playoffs, games can come down to who runs set pieces more precisely,” Roberts said. “I stress to my players that set pieces are 10 percent skill and 90 percent courage. The player willing to take a bump or put their head in will be the player that comes up with the result they're looking for.” In a season that has seen its share of bumps and bruises for the Lady Grizzlies, the coach is hoping the end result will be the section title that got away a season ago.