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Tigers step up to favorite’s role

Offensive Tigers still play superior defense
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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A year ago, it was the underdog Roseville High soccer team that shocked the section in reaching the girls Division II soccer title game. The Tigers eventually played Oak Ridge into overtime of the section title game before losing on a penalty kick shootout. Roseville coach Pablo Gutierrez sounds like a guy that has a great appreciation for the way things went down last year. “It is easier to motivate players when you are the underdog,” Gutierrez said. “Sometimes having a home game it works against you from the intensity point of view.That will be a detemining factor; convincing my girls that playing a third place team is not easier than playing a first place team.” That is especially true since Roseville’s first-round opponent finished third in the highly competitive Sierra Valley Conference. Vista del Lago is a new school in its first playoff year, but the Eagles can play. “Vista del Lago is very strong program loaded with competitive players,” Gutierrez said. “If you look at their games against Oakridge and Christian Brothers, they were close.” But Gutierrez’ team sports a different look than we have come to expect from the Tigers. Rare is the season in which you would see a Roseville team post six goals on the board against anyone. The only coach in the school’s soccer history prides himself on dominating defense, and his team has been able to win a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games over the years. This year’s back line, led by Kelsey DeCarlo and Kayla Granley is as good as always, but the Tigers have multiple explosive scoring options in the midfield and on the attack, and that is a new luxury for Gutierrez. Junior Amanda Ellsworth and freshman Paige Crouch have formed a lethal 1-2 scoring duo up top, but with freshman Chanisse Hendrix, sophomore Amanda Susbilla and junior Adriane Bates running behind them, the goals can come from long range or in tight. The most dangerous part of all is the passing the coach gets from this group of players. While Roseville is a school more accustomed to being in this position, Gutierrez leans heavily on young players, which could balance things in terms of experience. Vista del Lago coach Jimmy Frazelle knows the dangers of the first-time playoff experience. “What I’d like to see out of my team is composure,” Frazelle said. “This is our first trip to the playoffs and we’re going to need to play with composure. We’re going to get our chances and attacks, but I’m also looking for us to play solid defensively.” Gutierrez is content that his young players will be fine, even with while carrying the role of front-runner. “Playing in the playoffs is a different game than a regular game,” Gutierrez said. “The game in the playoffs is a one-shot event and how tough you are mentally determines your chances. We have a hard working group of girls who get along really well. Let's hope that our intensity stays high. As far as youth; that's to our advantage. Freshmen and sophomores always play for fun. They do a good job following the leaders.” The game kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday at Roseville High, with the winner advancing to the section semifinal at 8 p.m. next Wednesday night against the winner of Friday’s contest between Granite Bay and Oak Ridge.