SHINGLE SPRINGS — Brittany Gisin’s return shot into the upper right corner minutes in was buttressed by a monstrous game-long defensive effort by the entire Ponderosa soccer squad Wednesday as the host Lady Bruins upset Delta River League-leading St. Francis 1-0.
The victory in the last regular season home game guaranteed Ponderosa (4-3-3) a spot in the upcoming CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“This is a huge win,” a beaming Bruin coach Greg Spangler said. “We needed a tie (score) to get into the playoffs and thought it’d be 0-0 for a long time but once we scored it was defend, defend, defend.”
On an afternoon when the Bruins honored seniors Michelle Kimball, Alex Donaldson, Natalie Hanson, Kennedi Fox, Danielle Enright, Jennifer Webber and the absent Summer Shultz, Gisin, a freshman, stepped up with the match’s only goal to stun the Troubadours.
“I don’t score very much from the back line so that one felt really good. A deflected ball came to me at the top of the 18 and I shot it into the upper corner,” Gisin said. “It feels amazing to beat St. Francis and to hold the lead for that long.”
After Gisin’s goal, both teams stuck to their game plans. Ponderosa’s defense of Hanson, Gisin, Breana Duhamel and Aubrey Wimmer marked and stood up any Troubadours that got close while Kimball, Donaldson, Fox and Amy Silverbush kept one eye on the back and the other on forwards Sheridan Fox, Karissa Schroeder and Enright — trying to get them the ball to counterattack.
Behind adept passing, St. Francis worked its possession game through the midfield hoping for the equalizer, but Ponderosa turned the visitors away every time.
“Our strategy coming in was to be defensive. We knew how their forwards played so we set back, pressured them and didn’t let them shoot,” Donaldson said.
Bruin goalie Jenna Hufford and the entire Ponderosa side were on their toes the entire second half as the Troubadours brought relentless pressure. The Bruins dodged a bullet when St. Francis failed to convert a penalty kick try that glanced off the post. Hufford guessed correctly but pulled up as the point-blank attempt went awry.
“We got it done and got what we were looking for. This is a nice revenge win — we knew what we needed to do and played like we wanted it,” Kimball and Donaldson said. “It was an up and down season but toward the end we put it together and this win will give us confidence going into the playoffs.”