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Retooled Lady Trojans aim for playoffs

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Rain began to come down minutes after the final whistle and that was nearly the only convenience in a 1-0 loss to visiting Rocklin by the Oak Ridge girls’ soccer team. On Wednesday as clouds loomed and bitter cold wrapped the field, the Lady Trojans suffered the scoreless final. With no games on the schedule the last couple weeks, the Lady Trojans were out of sync, according to coach Henry Reis, but still with enough time to tune up before their first Delta River League season. Rocklin, the runner up in last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship to Granite Bay, had 10 times as many shots as Oak Ridge (two in total, one in each half and neither on frame) and it paid off in the end. The lone goal was nothing for the Lady Trojans to be down about. In the seventh minute, a lofty ball was lifted well into the air and past keeper Ashley Pearl. It floated high from the left side of goal and one-hopped into the side netting on the far side. A fluke goal by the Lady Thunder (5-1) and just two shots by Oak Ridge were part of the 1-0 loss. Rocklin’s 12 shots included a strike Pearl stretched to save and defender Tiffani Reimers cleared on a rebound shot in the 39th. Again in the 55th Rocklin missed a chance to go up 2-0 on a clear header and a breakaway-one-touch shot off the crossbar in the 66th. Oak Ridge may have lacked the finishing touches against Rocklin, but the team has received a major facelift of roster players this season. Last year’s squad touted seven seniors all the way to a 1-0 opening round loss to Granite Bay, who went on to win section. This season traded senior leadership for underclassmen, now with eight freshmen and four sophomores. Reis said with his starting 11 on the field at the start of league play he expects similar results this season — a spot in playoffs. “We played kids out of place to see how they’d react (against Rocklin, Wednesday). I’m carrying a lot of freshmen so I’m giving them the opportunities to see what they can do for the team,” said Reis. “Win or lose today wasn’t going to affect our season. Some players were out of position so it obviously makes it tough to transition in our offense, but with our starters on the field it will be better.” Among his starters this season are freshman defender Lauren Whited and forward Marissa Ribeiro. Versus the Lady Thunder on Wednesday, Ribeiro controlled offensive attacking when her team threatened. In the 18th minute Ribeiro received a short cross just inside the left of goal, but pushed it just wide of the near post. Overall Reis said the strength of a girls’ soccer program at Oak Ridge hasn’t changed much and has maintained its reputation. One thing missing from the 20-player roster are captains. Rachel Mercik, former Lady Trojan leading scorer as a senior, put away seven goals last season and Jay Domenichelli, also former senior forward, had five. Mandi McBroom followed Mercik and Domenichelli with three goals on her last Oak Ridge season. Reis said certain players may need to consistently play step-up roles and now as a senior, McBroom and freshman Ribeiro may have those responsibilities. “This is a good league and we should have been in it previously,” said Reis. “There are some strong teams and some weak teams as well. As a group I’d say the kids are a little more relaxed than last year so I think they’ll be a little easier to manage, less attitudes.” Ponderosa and Oak Ridge are both new to the Delta River League this season. A year ago St. Francis finished 8-1-1 in league, Folsom in at 7-1-2 and Sheldon at 5-2-3. The bottom three teams, Pleasant Grove, Monterey Trail and Florin, finished under .500. Monterey Trail and winless Florin were relegated to the Delta Valley.