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Trojans bounce Granite Bay in section semifinal

1-0 win puts Oak Ridge in DII title game
By: Kurt Johnson, Gold Country News Service
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A single bounce of the ball one way or the other changes everything, and on Wednesday night inside Prairie City Stadium at Folsom High, it was one bounce that changed everything for two talented soccer teams. The night’s second Sac-Joaquin Section Division II girls soccer semifinal between Sierra Foothill League champion Granite Bay and Sierra Valley Conference runner-up Oak Ridge was played at a fast pace from start to finish. The contest was scoreless at the half, and remained that way until the second stanza’s 14th minute. Oak Ridge’s Jessica Domenichelli created an opportunity at that point and cashed in on a fortuitous bounce to provide the game’s lone tally as the Trojans knocked off Granite Bay 1-0. The junior forward raced past the Grizzly defense and then sent a strong shot towards the goal. The shot connected with the post, but rebounded back to Domenichelli and she made the second chance pay off, sending the ball into the back of the net. “Sometimes it comes down to the way the ball bounces,” said Granite Bay coach Chris Roberts. “That goal was not the way I wanted my season to end. What are the odds that the deflected ball lands right back at the feet of the girl that took the initial shot? Credit to Oak Ridge for being in the game, playing well enough to be in the position to win, and getting it done.” The final carom was not the first positive break that went in the direction of the Trojans. Just 10 minutes earlier, a strong run by Granite Bay’s Tasha Hartford deep into the Oak Ridge defense ended when a crossing ball was nudged over the goal line by a Trojan defender. The ball was inches outside the goal post, narrowly missing what would have been an own-goal and a Grizzly advantage. The Trojans were strong out of the gate, maintaining possession of the ball and keeping constant pressure on the Granite Bay defense. The Grizzlies were on the defensive at the outset, and relied uncharacteristically on the counterattack as they scrambled on defense. “We let Oak Ridge put their stamp on the game in the first half instead of coming out and dictating tempo and playing style,” Roberts said. Behind the leadership of Rachel Mercik and with strong performances by Domenichelli, Cori Davis, Geneve Dromensk and Amy Hahn, Oak Ridge took control of the midfield and established a strong tone early that lasted the entire game. The speed of Sara Harris, Amanda Stickelman, Tori Chambliss and Alex Ghilarducci on the defensive end kept Granite Bay’s powerful scoring unit from getting anything going. Sarah Kendall and Alexis Knudtson used their speed and ball skills to keep the pressure on, but the Trojan defenders were up to the task, turning away every opportunity. The win for Oak Ridge (12-2-3) knocks out one of the tourney favorites as Granite Bay (17-3) saw its season end much earlier than it had expected. The Trojans look to extend the SVC hold on the DII title to seven seasons when they take on SFL runner-up Roseville at 2 p.m. Saturday in the section championship game at Prairie City Stadium.