Rivals reunite in soccer semifinal
One team spent the entire season expecting to be here, while the other battled injuries and difficulties that left it unsure.
Whatever course each squad followed, the girls soccer teams at Roseville and Granite Bay high schools will meet on the field at Folsom High Wednesday night with a spot in the section title game on the line. The Tigers were the Sierra Foothill League front-runners for most of the season, while the Grizzlies needed some breaks on the season’s final day just to reach the dance.
A year ago, the roles were reversed, and it was the underdog Tigers who reached the finale while favored Granite Bay was upset in the semifinals. All of that is gone now, as these two familiar foes prepare to face each other after splitting their two regular season meetings.
“I know the girls are excited to be where they are, in the semifinals, and would've been just as excited regardless of the opponent,” said Granite Bay coach Chris Roberts. “With that said, the team is encouraged by the opportunity to play Roseville again. Having split the regular season with them, the team knows that this is going to be a battle. We know their style, as they know ours.”
Despite its league champion status, Roseville still sees itself in a bit of the underdog role, as it has not dominated the Grizzlies as it has other teams.
“They (Granite Bay) want to prove they are better than us and my girls are ready for the challenge,” said Roseville coach Pablo Gutierrez. “It's going to be a tight game from beginning to end. Granite Bay is going to come at us with the mentality that they score easily on us. My defense is ready for the challenge.”
Interestingly, both teams share a similar concern heading into the contest. Roseville has struggled with slow starts in many of its games, including a very poor first half in the first round win over Vista del Lago.
“It seems like that's one of the characteristics of my team,” Gutierrez said. “A slow start followed by a strong finish. I’d rather have that than the other way - fast start/slow finish. However, I want to make sure we don't have a slow start as slow as the last one. Wednesday should be a better day.”
Roberts is more worried about his team’s tendency to lapse occasionally during games.
“We need to play 80 minutes of soccer to have a chance against a quality opponent like Roseville,” Roberts said. “My biggest concern is just that, our inability to sustain the intensity. In two games against Roseville we've played well in the first half of both those games. I would say that 90 percent of the goals scored on us this season have come from mental mistakes and lapses in intensity and focus.”
Roseville will rely on Kelsey DeCarlo, Kayla Granley and its defense to keep it in the game while its speedy strikers, Paige Crouch and Amanda Ellsworth apply the pressure up top, but the real key for Roseville will be the play of its midfield.
Granite Bay has reworked its personnel since the last time these teams met, mostly due to injuries, but Kayla Karlsson is still the anchor in the back, with Monica Tingley and Christy Cooper working to control the ball as the Grizzlies move forward.
The game will be the nightcap of Wednesday's section semifinal doubleheader. Once again, it is a heavy dose of the SFL, as Rocklin will take on Christian Brothers in what should be a fantastic 6 p.m. game, with Roseville and Granite Bay set to follow at 8 p.m.
FYI: Sac-Joaquin soccer playoffs First round Christian Brothers 6, Rosemont 0 Rocklin 2, McClatchy 0 Granite Bay 1, Oak Ridge 0 Roseville 2, Vista del Lago 1 (OT) Second round matchups Wednesday at Folsom High School 6 p.m. – Rocklin vs. Christian Brothers 8 p.m. – Roseville vs. Granite Bay Championship game Saturday at Folsom High, time TBD
Sac-Joaquin soccer playoffs
Christian Brothers 6, Rosemont 0
Rocklin 2, McClatchy 0
Granite Bay 1, Oak Ridge 0
Roseville 2, Vista del Lago 1 (OT)
Second round matchups Wednesday at Folsom High School
6 p.m. – Rocklin vs. Christian Brothers
8 p.m. – Roseville vs. Granite Bay
Championship game Saturday at Folsom High, time TBD