Mr. Smith, new-look defense sparks Grizzlies

By From page A6 | October 10, 2012

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KYLE SHIBA wins the ball in the air. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum

GARDEN VALLEY — Matt Smith’s hat trick and bend-don’t-break defense was enough for host Golden Sierra soccer to clip the Victory Christian Falcons 3-2 in nonleague soccer action Monday.

Smith’s game-decider with 6:30 left mirrored his first goal midway into the first half — he pounced on a mishandle by Victory’s keeper and played it back into the net. The Grizzlies’ win broke a two-game skid and saddled the Falcons with their first loss of the season.

“That’s our first game where we attacked and defended as a unit and held our formation,” Griz coach Johnn deGraef said. “We tried a new system for the first 70 minutes and then went to our bunker defense (11 defenders) the last 10.”

Golden Sierra also went with a makeshift lineup as seven seniors didn’t play. The Grizzlies started four JV players. Two of them, John Oules and Braiden Swansen (nine steals), joined Brandon Susic (eight steals) and Glen Carlisle on the defensive line to challenge the Falcon onslaught on goal.

“The young players really stepped up, showed determination and played hard,” deGraef said.

Golden Sierra scored first as Smith collected the keeper’s fumble along the endline and carried back to the goal opening ahead of Falcon defenders.

“The keeper lost the ball and I was in the right spot,” Smith said. “Offensively we were tough and never gave up.”

Victory countered on a shot that deflected off a Grizzly and through Golden Sierra goalie Jonny O’Brien. The Falcons scored again right before halftime to take the lead.

With Kyle Shiba handling the midfield, Golden Sierra pressed for the equalizer and it came after a series of Falcon corner kicks. Outplaying and out-guessing a mark on a pass upfield, Smith blasted in a shot to make it 2-2.

Victory’s skill was evident on its runs on goals and give-and-gos that placed maximum pressure on the Griz who went with Shane Doyan in goal. Doyan faced a barrage of shots and made clutch saves while the Falcons also misfired on several point-blank looks.

Smith broke the deadlock and Golden Sierra had a much-needed win with two Sierra Delta League matches: Bradshaw Christian (Tuesday) and Vacaville Christian (Thursday) left to play this week.


Jerry Heinzer

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