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Oakmont breaks away from Burbank in return to soccer playoffs

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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There were breakaway goals, a solid effort on defense and in goal and yes, mistakes, too.

Overall, Oakmont High School produced what coach Al Blackmon said was “a solid effort” in its first Sac-Joaquin Section soccer playoff game in three years, a 3-1 victory over Burbank at home Thursday afternoon.

The Vikings (9-7-1) last appeared in the playoffs in 2008, when they lost to Granite Bay in the Division II final.

“Because of the three-year lag, sometimes teams kinda, they get giddy. They get that excitement because we’re in and they lose focus, and I think it showed the first half,” Blackmon said. “But we took advantage of our opportunities, and we covered the mistakes.”

The Vikings built a 3-0 lead on breakaway goals by senior Anthony Bettencourt, freshman Brandon Powers and senior Steve Carlisle, but Keng Chang helped Burbank (10-8-2) apply constant pressure, and the Titans scored midway through the second half.

Blackmon watched Burbank play Kennedy and said Chang “dismantled them by himself.” Blackmon hoped to rest sweeper Travis McAuley, who was injured in Oakmont’s previous game, but McAuley played against Burbank.

“They had some momentum,” Blackmon said. “They put on a good charge, and I didn’t expect any less.”

Oakmont goalie Richard Mazza was up to that charge. He made several saves in the second half, the last in the final seconds during a sequence that included the ball hitting the crossbar before finally being knocked out of bounds. Blackmon described Mazza’s performance as phenomenal.

“Richard was hot. He was active,” Blackmon said. “He did a great job.”

The Vikings play at Granite Bay at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Woodcreek plays host to Kennedy in another quarterfinal. Granite Bay (18-3-3) won another Sierra Foothill League championship and is the reigning Division II champ. The Grizzlies also spent time in two national polls this season.

“We’ll be ready. We’re not going to be afraid. We’re not going to be intimidated,” Blackmon said. “We’re going to go in there and give it our best effort.”