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Heading in the wrong direction

Oak Ridge falls to St. Francis, 3-0
By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Injuries have depleted their youthful lineup, making Oak Ridge High’s soccer team even more inexperience than it already is. With seven starters out of the lineup, it’s made the season a tough go, as Oak Ridge opened this week with a 0-2-2 record in the Delta River League and a 3-4-3 mark overall. The Lady Trojans will count on efforts from all available players until they get healthy. “It’s been a battle,” Oak Ridge coach Henry Reis said. “It’s hard to compete when you don’t have a healthy team, so right now it’s just trying to get everyone healthy.” Oak Ridge played well for awhile against St. Francis on April 6, but a second-half boost from St. Francis led to a 3-0 win over Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge held it even through the first half, but four minutes into the second St. Francis was looking like anything but a team that tied and loss their last two games. The three-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champions bounced back from their second Delta River League loss since the section realignment in 2006. Offensive momentum swung the Troubadours’ way the last 10 to 15 minutes of the first half, beginning a controlled team offensive push. Oak Ridge maintained even marks physically, but it wasn’t enough to prevent three goals in 24 minutes. St. Francis began the second half with a controlled attack straight away, scoring the first two goals in less than 10 minutes of each other. Those two goals; however, weren’t much for Reis to fault his team. Oak Ridge keeper Nina Grimes was helpless on a ball that was blocked on an attempted clearance and blew straight back into goal in the 44th minute. Wind may have aided the flight of the ball, as the flags on the football field were blowing toward goal. The ball eluded Grimes and a lofty spinning fluke of a touch painted a nostalgic 1-0 deficit. Barely 10 minutes later one sideline referee appeared to make an offside call on St. Francis. The call was relented, however and St. Francis bolted toward goal and a long ball played up turned into a simple cross and light finish. Oak Ridge went into a 2-0 hole in the 54th. The final goal was the only one among the three that couldn’t have been argued. In the 68th a Troubadour substitute striker finished an easy breakaway with speed. Grimes tripped backtracking to position, regained her stance and dove late for the save. The Lady Trojans made mistakes on ball, played long through balls into the Troubadour defense and had some defensive errors that led to two goals, but for a team still missing seven starters, it’s a tough transition. “Overall I think the mistakes that we made defensively allowed St. Francis to capitalize,” said Reis. “They made mistakes that we capitalized on as well. The ref also had a tough time. We played well in the second half; we just struggled with our fatigue and inexperience. Experience is what will take you to the next level and we just don’t have that right now.” Freshman defender Paige Okazaki, who had an assist in Oak Ridge’s 1-1 draw to Ponderosa, was out against St. Francis, junior midfielder Tiffani Reimers was dressed but couldn’t play and a handful of injuries linger with the Lady Trojans. Their defense was solid especially through the first 30 minutes. Also in the 67th the back line continued to hold ground, defender Alexandra Ghilarducci made a save following a Grimes save. Ghilarducci’s step-to save allowed her team to build up field, but it was the Troubadour goalie that assisted the third goal directly back down field. St. Francis waged a heavy offensive attack, whether on counters like the third goal or maintaining short possession passes in the middle, quickly building to the goal. Often Carisa Rivers was there to shield the ball back into possession. Grimes earned three saves in short period around the 30th minute and finished with four total. Oak Ridge opened last week with a 1-1 tied against Pleasant Grove. The Lady Trojans’ last game before Spring Break is at home today at 4 p.m. against Sheldon.