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Tigers use strong second half and OT to top Vista

Roseville starts slowly, finishes well in playoff win
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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It was a tale of two halves Friday night when Vista del Lago High visited Roseville in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II girls soccer playoff opener. While the Eagles put on a stunning display of ball-control soccer during the first 40 minutes, the Tigers were a step or two slow. The result left the Sierra Foothill League champions staring at a 1-0 deficit at intermission against the No. 3 team from the Sierra Valley Conference. It took all the Tigers could throw out there for Roseville to move on to the next round with a 2-1 win in overtime. “The first half was our best soccer,” said Vista coach Jimmy Frazelle. “We were able to play the ball very well on the ground, as well as we have done all year.” The Tigers were especially out of their usual game in the midfield, where they had almost no presence during the first half. “Our midfielders were slow and struggling in the first half,” said Roseville coach Pablo Gutierrez. “I had to take some of them out because they had no energy.” Vista del Lago tallied just six minutes in, when Kayla Hodge took a long through-ball in the open heading between Roseville defenders. She took full advantage of the chance, striking home a powerful shot to the far post from about 12 yards out on the right side. Vista del Lago’s defense was stout early, and they possessed the ball almost effortlessly, leaving Roseville to chase. The Tigers lacked organization during the first half, and while they generated a few scoring chances on the counter-attack, they were unable to finish. Coming out of the break, it was an entirely different contest. Roseville came out with a fresh attacking attitude and took control of the midfield. The Eagles were unable to move the ball through as easily and it appeared inevitable that the Tigers would find the net. “In the second half, we played to Roseville’s strengths,” Frazelle said. “There were way too many balls in the air, and they won them all. No. 8 (Amanda Ellsworth) just killed us, getting her head on everything.” Roseville controlled the second half pace and spent most of the 40 minutes and almost all of overtime’s 20 minutes in its offensive half of the pitch. If not for Eagle goalkeeper Megan Heddinger and some timely defensive effort from Katie Beattie and Alicia Segura, the game could have turned into a rout. As it was, the Tigers finally got one eight minutes into the second stanza. A Kelsey DeCarlo free kick from about 35 yards out was straight on the frame, and players from both teams elevated to try to make contact with the ball. It appeared to graze the head of an Eagle defender on its way to the back of the net for the equalizer. Roseville had a dozen opportunities to take the lead, and the Eagles had a couple of balls almost inside the goal only to see DeCarlo, Kayla Granley, Marissa Lopez and goalkeeper Ellie Foster-Williams turn them away. Almost all of the Vista chances after the first 40 minutes came on free kicks and corner kicks as they had a hard time generating anything in the flow of the offense. Back up from the junior varsity, freshman Lauren Stafford was very strong on the ball for Roseville. The Tigers also received serious contributions with excellent midfield efforts from Chanisse Hendrix and Adriane Bates. The biggest problem for Vista del Lago was dealing with Ellsworth and Paige Crouch up top. The Eagle defenders could not run with that duo in terms of foot speed, and the game became more and more physical as it wore on. Both strikers had chances, but in many cases, held the ball just a step too long, running into trouble. “We really had it going in the second half,” Gutierrez said. “It’s really fun to watch when we play like that and we could have had a few more goals.” One in particular that Gutierrez struggled with came in the 71st minute, when Amanda Susbilla struck an indirect free kick from about 35 yards out. It was a strong shot on goal, and sailed off the fingertips of Heddinger and on into the netting. As an indirect kick, the score does not count unless the ball is played by a second player, but the keeper’s hands, if she touched the ball, would count as that second touch. The referees ruled that there was no touch and did not allow the goal to score. With that goal disallowed, the two teams went to the end of regulation even at 1-1, and then moved on to two 10-minute overtimes. By rule, in playoff soccer, overtime is not sudden death so they played the full 20 minutes. The Roseville domination got more intense in the extra sessions, and the Tigers spent the first five minutes of each overtime blasting away at balls right in the face of Heddinger. A long cross by Hendrix was played down by Stafford, who then fed Crouch in a dangerous position. The freshman forward turned the ball and beat one defender before striking the finish to the far post to give Roseville its first lead of the night. The Eagles had just one quality chance in the overtime periods as the Tigers had seized control of the contest. A Bates rocket appeared slated for goal No. 3 two minutes into the second OT, but Heddinger was at full extension to turn the shot away with a spectacular save. The Eagles’ senior keeper had a strong game, but it was not enough. The loss ends Vista del Lago’s season at 12-5-1 overall (8-3-1 in the SVC), but the postseason contest was big for this young program. “It’s all about history,” Frazelle said. “Roseville has a long record of success in playoff soccer, but we are just starting out. There are a lot of great players at this school and we are trying to build our own history.” Next up for Roseville (13-3-4) is a section semifinal date with a familiar foe. Gutierrez is looking forward to another matchup with Granite Bay (9-8-4). The Grizzlies toppled defending section champion Oak Ridge 1-0 on Friday. “We are happy to play Granite Bay,” Gutierrez said. “It was be a real battle against them, but we are familiar with their style so it will be an exciting game.” The Tigers are trying to get back to the section title game for the second straight year, as they lost in the championship round a year ago, dropping a penalty kick shootout to Oak Ridge. Once again, the SFL will have three teams in Folsom amongst the section’s final four, as Rocklin will meet Christian Brothers in the 6 p.m. contest. The Granite Bay vs. Roseville duel will be the nightcap Wednesday night at Prairie City Stadium, with a scheduled start time of 8 p.m.