Granite Bay defeats Oak Ridge in first-round playoff action, 1-0

By: Brett Ransford
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In the hot suns spectators witnessed an upset. Friday afternoon the Granite Bay Grizzlies (9-8-4) stole round one in the last minutes of the California Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs beating the Oak Ridge Trojans 1-0. Drama was high in El Dorado Hills, but Christy Cooper rose above it all and was the Granite Bay hero putting away a penalty shot in the 72nd minute. A strike from her left foot into the corner and side netting of the right goal side was the dagger to end it. The Trojans (11-5-3) were the favorite to win having lost just two games in the Sierra Valley League and winning four of their last five games. Granite Bay, however, had struggled, losing two of their last four. In two years Granite Bay and Oak Ridge have met in the first two rounds of playoffs. Last year it was an opposite 1-0 victory for the Trojans thanks to Jessica Domenichelli’s goal from Rachel Mercik. None of that history mattered once both teams took the field in El Dorado Hills. It was evident early that neither team was going to give it away and sure enough it came down to the last 10 minutes of play. Awarded the penalty kick was Anna Goddi. Kayla Karlsson was in affect again as the Grizzly sweeper and cleared out a long ball that found Goddi in the penalty box. Oak Ridge goalkeeper Ashley Pearl came out too aggressively on Goddi and was called for the penalty in the box as Goddi lay on the field with an injured hip. “I didn’t really see her coming. I was just trying to get a touch on the ball and then I looked up and all of a sudden saw her coming at me,” said Goddi. “I just got blasted and fell on the ground. I was kind of hurting there for awhile because I’ve done that a lot. It was definitely a foul and I’m glad it happened because we got the goal from it.” Cooper stepped in once Goddi was cleared off the field with the help of coach Chris Roberts. “I was really focused on getting side netting,” said Cooper. “I figured [Pearl] would go that way because I lined up there. I was nervous and excited because I knew as soon as he blew the whistle we put the game into my hands. I’ve always wanted to be able to put it away like that and it was amazing.” The win for Granite Bay is nothing short of amazing considering they made sections by just one game as it came down to a Woodcreek loss and Granite Bay win. Having just squashed any doubt of whether or not his team deserved to be in the playoffs, Roberts said his biggest emotion was pride as he walked off the field in the Oak Ridge stadium. “My girls matched Oak Ridge’s intensity in the first half and at halftime they found that extra gear and kicked it up,” said Roberts. “It was clear within the first five to 10 minutes of the second half that we had control of the game. Regardless of whether it was a PK or a shot on goal I honestly feel that we won that second half and deserved to have that goal.” In the second half Oak Ridge came out with an eye on goal attacking Granite Bay goalkeeper Kelsie Cooper yet again. On the other side of the field Pearl didn’t see many shots on frame, but Cooper had to have her hands ready for a skilled Trojan front line. “I knew that they had great players like Rachel (Mercik) and I was scared of her for sure, but going into this I know my abilities and I know that I can play a good game for my team,” said Cooper. As the older sister of Christy, who had the game’s only goal, Cooper displayed the veteran knowledge necessary to keep the Trojans out of goal. “It’s hard a job,” added Cooper. “As a goalie I can only control the ball once it’s in my hands. I was ready, playing well, I’m fit and focused and I know my team’s behind me.” While the Trojans got off more shots than Granite Bay in the second half, they couldn’t capitalize on a number of free kicks and corners. Near the 60th minute Oak Ridge had a number of opportunities on goal. Mercik had the best chance as she dribbled around and cut back nearly all of Granite Bay’s defensive backs. Her cross made it perfectly to the head of Carissa Rivers on the far post, but her finish was a touch too strong over the crossbar. At times in the match it looked like the Grizzlies might not be able to match the on-ball skill of Mercik, Rivers and the rest of the midfield and forwards. They took advantage of their opportunities at goal when they came and it now has them headed to the semi -final round. The Roseville Tigers defeated the Vista del Lago Eagles 2-1 in double overtime in their first round game on Friday. One of two semi -final games will feature two top SFL seeds in Granite Bay versus Roseville. Their meetings this season were split as Granite Bay took the first 2-1 at home and then lost the second 1-0 at Roseville. In that 1-0 loss Granite Bay lost their junior captain Chelsea Putman to a torn ACL in her knee that required surgery shortly after. “I was just so happy that we got to beat them because of last year’s game,” said Putman. “My teammates are telling me they’re doing this for me and it’s just such a great feeling since I’m not able to play. Even though it wasn’t the greatest season it’s great to come together at the end of year like this.” Oak Ridge finishes their season 11-4-3 before entering playoffs including 9-2-1 in the Sierra Valley Conference. Coach Henry Reis saw some huge wins this season including 1-0 over top seeded Christian Brothers and 3-0 over Vista del Lago. Reis graduates seven senior starters and will look to fill some big shoes. He returns six juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen, including Rivers.