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Oak Ridge soccer team enjoying success under new coaching staff

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Winning in high school sports can fluctuate season to season, but it appears Oak Ridge girls’ soccer stands at the precipice of repeat success.

Through three seasons from 2006 to 2009 the Trojans won two Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championships and three Delta River League titles under seven-year head coach Henry Reis. Coaches Joe Champion and Eric Davidson of the El Dorado Hills Soccer Club jumped at the chance to take over this season and the Trojans concluded the regular season 10-4-3 and locked up home field advantage in the first round of the postseason.

Oak Ridge moved to division one in 2010 and hasn’t made it to the second round of the playoffs since 2009.

The Trojans, currently ranked 11th in the section by MaxPreps, opened the playoffs today as the fifth seed, the highest they’ve ever been in the Division I playoffs. They play host to No. 12 Kennedy at 3:30 p.m.

Junior Anna Lippuner leads the team with seven goals. Marissa Ribiero has five, Hannah Miller has four and eight other players have at least one. Senior Carisa Rivers’ 11 assists are more than the next three players combined.

“The team had a lot more energy than last year, the coaches are really positive, and this year, everyone is just having a really good time and enjoying playing together,” said Lauren Whited.

The junior defensive captain played with varsity the last three years. Whited and 12 other juniors could return next season, arguably making Oak Ridge the favorite over St. Francis, which graduates seven seniors and returns 10 juniors.

The Trojans and Troubadours played to 1-1 and 2-2 draws this season. St. Francis (12-1-7) inched its way into the Delta River League’s top spot with a league record 6-0-4 above Oak Ridge’s 6-2-2.

According to both Champion and Davidson, a second-place finish was secondary to the manners in which their team embraced and committed to their philosophies.

“The team has received a lot of praise this season, from spectators and even opposition coaches,” said Champion. “Many have noted that the girls are not only playing just great soccer, but also competing with intensity, heart and a strong will to win.

Champion is the Director of Coaching for El Dorado Hills Soccer Club and President/Owner of Joe Champion Soccer, LLC. Six of 10 years coaching have been with the club. He also has licenses with the United States Soccer Federation, among other national and international affiliations.

“We acknowledge that club soccer is an important part of their development, so we wanted to try and supplement this with a positive high school experience; the balance between focused, committed practice and fun playing with your peers,” said Champion.

Davidson, assistant coach, has coached 10 years with the club and also has licenses with the USSF. Champion was previously head coach at El Dorado, while Davidson coached at Monta Vista High School.

He said Champion as head coach drew him to Oak Ridge. A testament to their season – the team lost back-to-back matches once this season, one of which was an exhibition. They won five-straight leading up to those losses.

“Being a first-year coach with this team, the key transition was building a clear and united purpose with the players and coaches,” said Davidson. “We had some goals in mind, but didn't want to come in and tell them what we wanted to achieve, but rather find out what they wanted and how we could accomplish those goals together.”

Alyse Kopp, Oak Ridge JV head coach, has been coaching in program since 2006, including alongside Reis’ successful varsity teams.

The freshman team was coached by Zandee Newell.