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T’Wolves topple EU for crown

Nicole Vanni, Moriah Fallon claim individual honors

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T’Wolves topple EU for crown

Michaela Scott celebrates a goal with Nicole Vanni during Sierra's 6-0 championship win over EU Saturday at the Vern Gebhardt Champions Cup.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED March 15, 2009 5:19 a.m.
For the second time in the four years since the inception of the Vern Gebhardt Champions Cup, the tournament host walked away with the hardware.

Not only did Sierra High claim the championship with a 6-0 win over East Union Saturday at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium, but Nicole Vanni was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and Moriah Fallon took home Defensive Player of the Tournament honors.

Vanni finished the two-day event with 10 goals and four assists, and Fallon recorded four shutouts.

With the win, Sierra finished the preseason undefeated at 10-0-1 and extended its shutout streak to eight games.

There is no love lost between the Timberwolves and Lancers and Saturday’s title bout was no exception.

Featuring five yellow cards, the contest was a slugfest from the word go, as elbows flew and bodies flailed to the turf with regularity.

“They’re a very strong program,” EU head coach Jim Todd said. “And our goal is to beat them on their grass. We’re going to have nothing to lose the next time we come back. Getting to the final game was fun for us, but I kind of knew Sierra would be out for blood.”

The Lancers were the aggressors in the first half despite Sierra’s 6-5 shot advantage.

However, it took just 1-minute, 38-seconds for Sierra to score its first goal as Nicole Vanni hooked up Brooke Grant on a shot that grazed the post before dribbling in.

20 minutes later, Vanni made it 2-0 on a penalty kick.

“In the second half, the kids showed what kind of soccer we can play, but the first half wasn’t very pretty,” Sierra head coach Manuel Pires said. “But I’ve got to give East Union some of the credit; they were a little bit more aggressive than us on 50-50 balls.”

The second half started with a bang thanks to Stephanie Vanni and Michaela Scott.

Three minutes in, Vanni found herself open on the right wing and drilled a picture-perfect cross to Scott who then headed it in perfectly from 10 yards out.

“I was dribbling down the line and I looked up and saw both my sister and Michaela at the goal and I chipped it over,” Vanni said. “Michaela got it up, headed it and drilled it into the net.”

Said Scott: “That was gorgeous, I was so happy I was there to get that. Stephanie was working hard the whole game, so I was glad I was able to finish that for her.”

Scott finished Saturday with three assists in Game 1 and a pair of scores in the title match.

“Earlier today I was focused more on passing, but in this one I scored,” Scott said. “That’s my job as a forward, so I was glad I was able to score, especially since it was the championship.”

Two minutes after Stephaine helped on the Scott score, she hooked up her sister on a nifty through-ball to make it 4-0. Afterward, the sisters shared a bear hug in the box.

“I’m really proud of her,” Stephanie said of Nicole. “She plays her heart out every game, and I’m really going to miss her when she leaves.”

Nicole scored her hat trick on just six shots.

Kayla Cody found Scott at the 17-minute mark of the second, and Nicole Vanni finished off the scoring with an assist from Diana Alfaro with four minutes remaining.

“I thought we were the better team, so we deserved to win,” Pires said. “Overall, it was a great tournament for us.”

Sierra outshot EU 19-9 and Fallon finished with nine saves.

EU’s Gianna Hedin had 14 saves.

The Lancers (4-4-3) earned a spot in the championship with a 2-1 win over Turlock on penalty kicks.

Rachel Bonds, Leilani Villasenor, Julie Lennert and Jesika Villegas all converted in overtime, and Odemaris Castillo scored East Union’s regulation goal off a Kaci Todd assist in the 13th minute.

Sierra waltzed into the finals with a 6-0 win over Galt.

Brooke Grant and Stephanie Vanni both found net, while Nicole Vanni scored four goals and assisted on her sister’s goal.

Mariela Pimentel and Sydnee Koscielecki had an assist each.
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