Wildcats claim section championship in girls soccer

By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Whitney High’s girls soccer team beat Sierra of Manteca 4-1 on Saturday afternoon to claim the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division IV championship in Stockton at Lincoln High. Whitney led 2-0 at the half and didn’t let up in the second half against previously unbeaten Sierra (26-1-2). “They are a good team. But we just did our thing – we don’t focus on what others do,” said Whitney coach Rich Donofrio, who began coaching the Wildcats this season. “We focus on what we can do and we play good defense. We have 24 girls on this team and I can put any one of them in and I don’t think there is any drop off. They just wanted it. They came to play and did their thing.” Whitney’s Rachel Walker scored early but the goal was called back due to a foul. “I told the girls to just keep pressuring and there was no let up,” Donofrio said. “I knew that if we attacked them early that (Sierra was) not used to that.” Whitney’s Elizabeth Grover scored to put the Wildcats up 1-0 and Grover set up Walker for a goal later in the half to put Whitney up 2-0. “The thing you worry about is that 2-0 can be dangerous,” Donofrio said. “You can get comfortable and Sierra is a dangerous team. They work hard and are organized and I told the girls ‘we can’t let up. We have to wear their defense out and get them to chase balls.” Whitney’s lead grew to 3-0 in the second half when Taylor Comer scored on a header after Morgan Edwards started things off with a corner kick. Sierra then cut the lead to 3-1 and had a few chances to make things closer. On one sequence Whitney defender Betsy Cogan made two saves just in front of the goal and Rachel Richardson cleared the ball with a big kick. Whitney goalie Paige Transue also made a diving save during this sequence. Whitney’s Ashley Jones set up Edwards for the final goal with about eight minutes remaining in the match. Whitney blanked Sonora 2-0 in the DIV semifinals at Whitney on Thursday. Grover and Brandi Carlson each scored in the win. Whitney, the Pioneer Valley League champion, finished the season 14-1-8. The Wildcats allowed just one total goal (against Placer on April 22) after tying Roseville 1-1 on March 9. The only loss of the season was 2-0 at Rocklin on Feb. 25. Donofrio knew his team was very talented before the season. “I don’t know if I ever thought about (winning section),” he said. “I always take it one game at a time and try to respect my opponents and we take it one step at a time. Have a good game plan . . . and I just want them to play what they see and be fearless. Lose 1-0 or win 4-0, if you leave everything you have on the field and have fun and create, things will work themselves out. I knew I had a talented group. “They are never satisfied and I liked our chances against everybody. We haven’t always had the luck in the playoffs – the last two years (Whitney played one playoff match and) was shut down. . . We are an up and coming program – not too many (people) know about us and maybe that played to our advantage.”