Trojans sweep Grizzlies on the pitch

By: Matt Long
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A solid 3-0 win over Granite Bay Tuesday locked up a playoff berth for Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ soccer team.

The Trojans, winners of three straight games, have a 4-3-2 record in the Sierra Foothill League and a 6-5-3 mark overall. The team wraps up the regular season at home against Del Oro (6-3-0, 9-3-1) on Thursday.

Ellen Smolarski and Sofia Garza scored goals in the first half to give the team its first two-goal lead of the season.

“At halftime, I let the girls know they can’t slack because all it takes is one goal and all of a sudden panic mode sets in,” Oak Ridge Coach Matt Jones said. “We came out with the same performance and work rate in the second half, hoping we would score again to kill the game.”

Alexis Miller just missed on a header off of a corner kick early in the second half, but Bella Krider eventually secured the win with a late goal.

“I thought we did well absorbing their pressure, as Granite Bay played a lot of direct balls into the defensive zone,” Jones said. “The girls stuck together and worked hard. We had hoped to finish well and have momentum and confidence heading into the playoffs and we’ve done that.”

Oak Ridge has one more hurdle in Del Oro, who it plays at 7 p.m. Thursday.


Boys defeat Grizzlies, 2-0

In the next-to-last regular season game, Oak Ridge varsity boys’ soccer coach Joe Champion finally saw the team he’d been looking for all season.

Oak Ridge received two goals from Dominick Paelli in the second half on its way to a 2-0 shutout win over Granite Bay, a team it lost to on Jan. 19, 4-1.

“In many ways it was our best performance of the season and the first time this year I actually recognized the identity of the team that we have been trying to create over the past few seasons,” Champion said. “We completely dominated the game from start to finish and should have won by more goals.

“We were frustrated at halftime, not with the performance, but because we weren't converting the many goal-scoring opportunities we had created. I was pleased that we finally put a couple away in the second half.”

The win improved Oak Ridge’s record to 5-5-1 in the Sierra Foothill League and 7-6-2 overall. The team wraps up the regular season on the road at Del Oro on Thursday. The Trojans defeated the Golden Eagles 3-2 on Jan. 24.

“I'm hoping we can take the confidence from this performance into our final game of the season and then hope to gain momentum going into the playoffs,” Champion said. “We've spoken a lot about trying to peak late in the season so that is our aim.”


Steven Wilson contributed to this article.