Rocklin goes distance to beat Vista in section playoff

Thunder win in shootout
By: Brett Ransford, Special to the Folsom Telegraph
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The new kids on the block took the playoff veteran the distance Friday in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II soccer playoffs. It took two overtimes and a penalty shootout for Rocklin to knock off Vista del Lago. After the two played to a scoreless draw through 100 minutes of soccer, the Thunder were perfect in the shootout, scoring four times to the Eagles single tally. “Vista is the team that I was most scared of when I saw the bracket,” said Rocklin coach Grant Depue. “All week long we’ve been taking PKs for the last thirty minutes of practice. We really stepped up in the second half and settled down as well. With Vista’s strong defense I knew we’d have to chip and chase. I don’t feel it was our best game, but I feel it was our most hard-fought game. I think the fact that we had been in playoffs before helped settle us down.” Vista played most of overtime a player short due to a red card on Tim Fairley halfway through the first overtime. The shootout may not have been necessary if it were not for the defensive play of Vista’s Tim Fairley. Rocklin’s Justin Beeson had a breakaway with only Fairley and Vista keeper Brian Werner between him and an open shot. Fairley literally took one for the team as he wrapped arms with Beeson, taking him down from behind. The result was a red card for the foul from behind on a breakaway. Despite being a man down, Vista continued its game-long trend of out-shooting the Thunder, as the Eagles got off three shots in the extra sessions to Rocklin’s one. The Thunder kept a physical game through the entire match. They had 19 total fouls including a yellow card on Chris Streeter just before Fairley’s red. Vista committed 20 fouls in trying to match Rocklin’s tenacious play for each ball. Vista took eight shots in the first half, while Rocklin didn’t take one shot on the frame in the entire first half and the Thunder had just four shots total. Still, Vista coach Jimmy Frazelle felt his team was not on its game. “We didn’t have our rhythm from the start of the game,” Frazelle said. “It was a rough one for us from the beginning and we were kind of offbeat. The only way we kind of stepped up at the end was by emotion and usually we don’t play by emotion, we play by intelligence. We’re going to have to do it next year. We’re losing five players but we have a lot of talent coming in.” Rocklin began the first 10 minutes of play winning balls with a quicker pace to have the first touch. The first shot of the match didn’t come until the 16th minute by Vista’s top scorer, Cody Dow. Dow left the game in first overtime. He said he was playing through a lower back injury suffered earlier in the season. On the re-injury in the first overtime Dow limped off field with a yellow card. He received a yellow for gestures made after a Rocklin foul in the second half. Once the contest reached the shootout, Rocklin was on the mark with each shot. Justin Soria was first up. The senior hadn’t practiced all week with a hip flexor, but chose the perfect time to put the stress on Vista. Vista’s Marwan Nazanda tied the shootout at 1-1 with a solid ground shot past goalie Zach Kammerer. Noe Romero then gave Rocklin a 2-1 advantage on a hard shot into the back left netting. Down 2-1 Fitzgerald was whistled back after he shot before the ref signaled the go-ahead. His follow-up was costly as it blew wide right of the goal. After a solid game protecting Rocklin’s backfield Joey Haug added to Vista’s anxiety, scoring the 3-1 kick on a masterful upper right strike that Werner couldn’t reach. At 3-1, Rocklin had the advantage following misses by Vista’s Brendan Fitzgerald and then Andrew Norton. Norton needed to make his PK down 3-1 to force a fifth shot. He struck it too hard and the ball sailed over the top crossbar and left Vista vulnerable for Cameron Powell to win the game for the Thunder. “I zoned everything out,” said Powell. “I didn’t look once at the keeper. I focused everything I’ve been practicing for the last week into that one shot. I’ve missed a couple championship shots in the past so I really wanted this one. When I made it all this excitement was rushing through me and I just wanted to run and see my team.” Coming into round one, Vista was 11-1 in league, having won their last eight consecutive games. Rocklin had gone 3-1-1 in their last five games to close league. Frazelle and the team won Vista High School’s first ever league championship in any sport for the school that opened in 2007. Sophomore Mark Lepage played up for the playoff game against Rocklin after leading the Eagle JV team in scoring this season. Lepage looked strong early and Frazelle started him in the second half in place of Brian Barraclough who also had a strong game up front. Vista graduates five seniors this year, returning eight juniors and seven sophomores next season to be joined by a young group of players who went undefeated at the junior varsity level this year. While Vista’s year is over, the Thunder move on to the section semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday night where they will see an old friend in Sierra Foothill League rival Roseville. The Tigers beat Grant Friday night to earn the final ticket to Prairie City Stadium in Folsom for the semifinals. Rocklin and Roseville split their two meetings earlier this season.