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Sierra advances to semi finals

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Sierra advances to semi finals

Sierra High's Maryann Baker clears a ball out of midfield during the Timberwolves' first-round 1-0 win over Cosumnes Oaks Thursday.


POSTED May 19, 2010 2:24 a.m.
It was far from Sierra High’s prettiest performance of the season, but the Timberwolves’ 1-0 first-round Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs win over Cosumnes Oaks High leaves Sierra one win shy of a return trip to the finals.

Sierra (18-5-2) broke a scoreless tie in the opening minutes of the second half, when Mariela Pimentel lifted Sierra with a perfect shot by a flustered Cosumnes Oaks keeper. Pimentel raced five yards behind teammate Stephanie Vanni, making good on a pass from Joanna Ortiz just after Vanni tipped the ball into Pimentel’s wheelhouse.

“I thought it was Stephanie’s goal and she had it, I was just there to back her up,” Pimentel said. “She couldn’t reach it and so I stuck out my foot and there it was.”

The score in the 47th minute provided Sierra with all the separation they would need and pushed a dangerous Wolfpack squad into urgency mode. Cosumnes Oaks played a solid first half, but squandered a point-blank opportunity in the final minutes of the first half that proved to be costly.

With just under three minutes remaining in the first half, Cosumnes Oaks striker Kara Manns fired a kick from the right side that Sierra goalie Moriah Fallon got both gloves on. The shot bounced freely in front of the goal, only to be shot and blocked twice before Sierra was able to clear the ball out of the box. Cosumnes Oaks nailing one of those three opportunities creates an entirely different environment.

“The first 10 of 15 minutes we moved the ball well and made some pretty nice plays,” Sierra head coach Manuel Pires said. “Stephanie (Vanni) had a nice opportunity early, but she had a lot of pressure from behind, and from there we really didn’t create anything that first half. Our game was not on.

“I have to give it to them; they outplayed us in the first half.”

The Wolfpack may have outplayed Sierra, but they had nothing to show for it. The team full of underclassmen and juniors battled to a scoreless first half tie, but immediately in the second half Sierra came out and asserted itself as the more dominant team.

That blow was delivered with a more physical style of play.

“My girls are a good team, but I told the girls, because they are freshmen and sophomores that they have to stay away from the physical game,” Cosumnes Oaks head coach Alejandro Chaves said. “Obviously, they got physical and we get physical back but we suffer the consequences. We tried to stay away from that.

“Sierra doesn’t need to be that physical, they are a good team.”

Sierra got standout play from Maryann Baker, Delaine Quaresma and Sydnee Koscielecki to help neutralize a Wolfpack squad that came into the contest riding an 11-game unbeaten streak where they’ve outscored their opponents 52-5. Fallon was huge in the net, minimizing each of the Wolfpacks’ chances from the keeper position.

“It was over-the-top physical out there,” Koscielecki said. “It got to the point when it could have probably broken out into a fight if the referee didn’t call fouls like he did. I really respect everybody out there; they played hard and gave it their all, both teams really did.”

Sierra has put themselves in position for a crucial semi-final matchup with Pioneer Valley League No. 1 seed Whitney High in Rocklin. Whitney snuck past Dixon 1-0 Tuesday, setting up a contest for a trip to the section final.

The Timberwolves were ousted in the section championship a year ago by Whitney, so Sierra knows it will have to take care of business when the two teams meet up Thursday.

“Hopefully this win will give us enough momentum to win the next one and get into the section final,” Koscielecki said. “We’re hoping to make it to sections and do what we failed to do last year, which was win.”
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