Western Sierra falls in playoff semifinal match

Wolves defeat Grizzlies on PKs
By: Jim Linsdau of The Placer Herald/News Messenger
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The Western Sierra girls soccer team again made it to the semifinals in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII Playoffs, but again that’s where the Wolves’ section title hopes ended.

The No. 3 seeded academy defeated Golden Sierra Feb. 22, but could not get past No. 2 seed Holt Academy Friday in Lodi.

“We won another playoff game and I think it’s only the second time Western Sierra has gotten through the first round and the first time was us two years ago so we’re pretty proud of that,” said Western Sierra head coach Scott Crosson.

The battle against Golden Sierra Wednesday took place in Thunder Stadium on the Rocklin High campus. The two teams held each other scoreless for 80 minutes and then through two more 10-minute overtime periods.

The match came down to five penalty kicks and the Wolves proved to be up to the task.

“All season I’ve been talking to the girls about mental toughness. I think because of that they step up in a very difficult situation,” said Crosson. “One-on-one with PKs, fighting when your body is exhausted; mental toughness set us apart just enough to stay on top.”

The Grizzlies scored the first PK of the postgame showdown and WSCA’s Carina Lim matched that effort to tie the match at 1-1. After Golden Sierra missed its next try, the Wolves’ Lizzy James buried her kick into the net.

With pressure mounting, freshman goalkeeper Lindsay Lucas blocked the Grizzlies’ next try setting the stage for teammate Melanie Crow. Crow’s attempt gave Western Sierra a 3-1 lead.

For Golden Sierra, the pressure was too much and the academy came away with the victory.

“I think the talent now coming in is a testament to our program,” Crosson said. “This is our fifth year and the fact that we have a great middle school feeder program as well.

“The girls that want a good academic experience, but also are good soccer players, are sticking around; I’m OK with that,” Crosson added with a laugh.

Western Sierra lost to defending Division VII section champion and No. 2 seed Ben Holt Academy Friday 4-0.