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Oakmont battles Merced to draw

Defending Division I champs scoreless against Vikings
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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In a battle between the 2008 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I boys soccer champion and the runner-up in Division II, Merced and Oakmont played to a scoreless draw Friday at the Del Campo tournament at Cherry Island Soccer Complex. Oakmont continued to impress with its ability to play physical and dominating defense, and the Vikings controlled the pace of play for much of Friday’s game, but they were unable to crease the Merced net. "I felt we deserved to win and getting that final finish didn't happen," said Oakmont coach Mark Broers. The Bears deployed an offside trap that gave Oakmont fits throughout the first half, but after the Vikings adjusted during the break, the scoring chances came. Merced goalkeeper Brian Pena had a huge game, turning away a number of Oakmont chances with some outstanding saves. In the 20th minute, Oakmont had one on the doorstep before Pena challenged Cole Alexander to force the ball wide. Alexander created another opening for himself late in the second half only to have it turned away at the mouth of the goal. Oakmont’s passing combinations through the midfield and into the front line were impressive at times, as Alexander, Robert Work and Kody Duff worked the ball into scoring territory. With Roy Pedro manning the sweeper position, and Tyler Kuresa roaming more in the front of the defensive line, the Vikings did a nice job sending the ball continually back into the attack. Brett Alexander was also strong in the back for Oakmont. "We are experimenting with the defense a little and trying to give guys a chance to play in different spots before league starts so they better understand the roles of each defensive position," Broers said. "It also gives me some insight on possibilities during league if we have to make a change on the fly due to injury or otherwise." The Vikings faced Mission of San Francisco in later Friday action, and face games against powerhouse teams from Rodriguez (11:30 a.m.) and Rodriguez (2:30 p.m.) Saturday before opening league play next Thursday against Roseville.