Oak Ridge advances to semifinals
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EL DORADO HILLS — The Oak Ridge High varsity girls soccer team hosted Lodi in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, posting a commanding 3-0 victory Thursday.
The Lady Trojans dominated possession throughout both halves, drawing first blood in the 37th minute when Julia Crawford’s corner kick met Hannah Miller directly in front of the net, giving her a well-taken opportunity to corral the ball through and finish.
Up 1-0 at half, Miller pushed the lead early in the second, splitting Lodi’s back line and firing from 20 yards by a scrambling Flames keeper.
“Hannah’s been outstanding at setting teammates up to score,” Oak Ridge head coach Joe Champion said. “It was nice to see her get the chance to score a couple herself.”
Oak Ridge’s offensive prowess was made possible by an impenetrable defensive foundation, as Troy’s back line proved to be too much for Lodi’s advances. Gretchen Goyette, Caira Woo and Kira Sahaida and Laren Whited set a straightforward tone for the match — efficiently diffusing and eradicating any Lodi threats on goal.
“We’ve been fortunate to have those three seniors (Goyette, Woo, Whited) playing defense,” Champion said. “And Kira has stepped up and done a fantastic job for us. I think if you look at the way they play, they’re one of if not the best defensive line in the conference — so it’s been great having them minimize threats and protect our net.”
Oak Ridge, the No. 3 seed, saw its final goal with Miller serving in a supporting role, inbounding to Brenna Palmer, who snaked through traffic and finished with a brilliant strike to the right post.
The win sets Oak Ridge (11-4-5) up for Wednesday’s D-I semifinal matchup at Franklin of Elk Grove. Troy has seen their next opponent twice earlier in the year, ending their games in 1-1 ties but with the Wildcats winning in penalty kicks.
“We’re hoping to continue to control possession, create scoring opportunities and finish — hopefully get a couple early,” Champion said. “Franklin is a great school, and we really respect them. It’s going to be an aggressive, physical game, but I think we’re ready to go out there and try to earn a win.”
The Oak Ridge-Franklin winner will play the St. Francis-Granite Bay winner for the section blue banner on Saturday.