Spring sports profile: Defense is key for shorthanded Granite Bay in soccer
Granite Bay High School’s girls soccer team found a steely resolve in rolling to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title last season — the second in the program’s history.
The Grizzlies, who at midseason were mired in fourth place in the ultra-competitive Sierra Foothill League, needed a 1-0 win over Roseville on the final day to qualify for the postseason.
“That was a crazy day,” said first-year coach Mark Broers, an assistant last season. “Everybody was texting somebody to see what happened on each field.”
They needed that resolve this season, as they began SFL play down five starters, including 2011 leading goal-scorer Anna Goddi, who may not be ready until the playoffs because of an injured ankle.
The Grizzlies (4-1-1 overall, 2-0 SFL) do have a formidable defense, led by University of Cincinnati-bound center-back Kayla Karlsson, who shares the captaincy with fellow seniors Christy Cooper and Ashley Sweeting.
“Scoring goals is always a challenge in this league anyway,” Broers said. “Each game should come down to a goal one way or the other.”
Broers hopes spring break in the first week of April will help heal the wounded, which includes Cooper and sophomore goalkeeper Destiny Butcher.
Broers anticipates the biggest challenge in the SFL to again come from Rocklin.
Granite Bay rebounded from a loss and a tie to the Thunder in the regular season to down Rocklin 1-0 in the section title game on then-sophomore Brigid Lummis’ sixth goal of the season.
No school in any sport in the area can match Granite Bay’s dominance in the pool.
The Grizzlies haven’t lost a league dual meet since 1997. The girls have won 15 consecutive SFL championships and the boys 14 in a row.
The 2012 season doesn’t figure to be different.
Headliners are seniors Sophie Weber, a multi-event All-American and the section record-holder in the 200 individual medley, and Andrew Murch, also an All-American and defending section champ in the 100 backstroke. Junior Hannah Calton and freshmen Summer Spradley, Julienne Tadena and Jordan Anderson should provide depth for the girls while Alek Dendall, Kevin Wylder, Max Vigeant and Malique Elder will do the same for the boys.
Track and field
The Grizzlies are undergoing a youth movement, as coach Jackie Nasca anticipates being able to move up many junior varsity competitors to varsity for postseason competition. Among returnees, the team features distance runners Natalie Hassna, Katie Mersereau and Trent Brendel, each of whom made the finals of the section Masters last year.
Granite Bay qualified five athletes for the CIF State Meet, and Nasca said there is potential to meet that number again. Junior Lauren Kinloch, younger sister of 2011 Masters champion James Kinloch, aims to be one of them.
Consistency is the theme with Terry Stafford’s bunch. The top four golfers from the 2011 Division II section championship team (senior Alex Gibbs and juniors Brandon Baumgarten, Chuck Pedone and Bryan Wise) return and are bolstered by three strong newcomers in sophomore transfer Brice Absalon from Colorado, sophomore Zack Kwan and freshman Josh Inouye-Wong.
All are accomplished tournament golfers and remarkably similar in skill. In an early season match, seven of the eight were within two strokes of one another in the Grizzlies’ one-stroke victory over Placer at tough Auburn Valley Country Club.
Granite Bay was seventh out of 13 teams at the NorCal championship last year; this year’s goal is a top three and an invite to state.
With a blend of youth and experience, the Grizzlies aim to capture their third consecutive Sacramento Valley Lacrosse Conference league championship.
Senior captains Andrew Duncan, an All-SVCLL selection last season, Will Harkin, Jack Hanly, Colton Sviba and Greg Marks lead the way. Sophomores Nate Gruen, a prolific scorer as a freshman, and Jake Mackall, a 30-goal scorer for the JV squad, figure to shoulder much of the scoring load.
The Grizzlies play a rough-and-tumble schedule featuring several Northern California powerhouses. They posted a 13-4 win over San Mateo-Serra in the opener and held defending North Coast Section-champion Danville-Monte Vista scoreless for three quarters before falling 6-3.
The defending Division II section team champions return a talented and deep squad. At the top of the ladder is tournament regular Zach Low, followed by Matt Thompson and Jake Keester. Newcomers Brandon Kozlowski and Bradley Chee will provide much-needed depth for a team that seeks to out-do its accomplishments from a year ago.
The Grizzlies breezed through the SFL last year, going 10-0 before claiming the section title. They lost to San Jose-Bellarmine 6-1 in the NorCal playoffs.
Playing together and executing are the main focus for the Grizzlies after having their section title three-peat bid upended by Oak Ridge. Granite Bay won the first two section championships awarded in 2009 and 2010 and has won the SFL seven out of eight years.
Seniors Jake Neptune, a prized 6-foot-1 setter, and Travis Vincenzini, a 5-8 libero, will play collegiately next season. Senior Alec Naki, in just his second year of competitive volleyball, provides pop on the outside with a leap that elevates him to 10 feet 10 inches.
Defending section-champion Rocklin and Nevada Union, which the Grizzlies beat in a five-set thriller for the inaugural title, should provide stiff competition in the SFL — the area’s strongest league.