ELK GROVE — One for the thumb.
Winners of four Sac-Joaquin Section championships coming into Thursday night’s SJS Division III championship tilt with Vista del Lago of Folsom, Sierra fell behind early and battled back on the bitterly cold, windy night, forcing overtime and downing the Eagles 2-1 at Cosumnes Oaks High School for the coveted blue banner.
The win avenged a loss for the Timberwolves in the title game to Vista del Lago two years ago.
“I am so excited and so happy for this group of girls,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “To have these seniors here tonight after losing to this team in this game two years ago is just so sweet. We went down by a goal and then turned the game around, went to overtime and we talked about how if we got that one goal in overtime is should be enough for us to win this game.”
Midway through the first half Kayla Carlson got the Eagles (16-5-4) on the board with a 15-yard shot. In the 33rd minute the Timberwolves’ Jadyn Shinn finessed a through ball to Tiana Cello who dribbled it from 20 yards out and beat two defenders to blast in a 10-yard shot to tie the score at 1-1.
“Jadyn flicked the ball,” Cello said. “And it was a perfect flick. It was a little bouncy and I kind of half volleyed it and I didn’t even look up until the ball was in the net.
“I was just so excited.”
Shinn was just warming up. After neither team could find the net in the second half the game progressed to two 10-minute overtime periods. Four minutes into the first one Nicole Martin passed the ball from mid-field 20 yards to Shinn.
The Cal-commit dribbled the ball 10 yards and then fired the ball across the Vista del Lago goalie and safely into the net to give Sierra (27-2-2) a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish.
“This is just unexplainable,” Shinn said. “We have strived for this all four years and to finally get it is the most amazing feeling because we have put blood, sweat and tears into everything — every practice and every game.
“To finally win sections is an amazing feeling. I can’t get happier than I am right now”
Shinn definitely left some blood on the field as she was forced to temporarily leave the game late in regulation because of a carpet burn on her upper thigh that was bleeding. Then, after scoring the tie-breaking goal in overtime, Shinn was undercut and hit the artificial turf hard with her head and struggled to get back up.
“I can’t remember all the details of that goal because I kind of got hit in the head,” Shinn said. “All I remember is that I just saw a space and my teammate found me. I knew that was going to be one of my only chances to score, especially with time running down. I was pretty sure we could hold them after that.”
The Eagles were physical and aggressive throughout the game, forcing Timberwolves goalie Callie
Crain to make 15 saves.
“Callie is an all-around great player,” Pires said of Crain. “On the field and on the goal, she just secures that back line solid.
“She definitely kept us in the game and made some great saves.”
Crain began the year as a defender but was thrust into the net when goalie Michaela Bitle suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“I was playing in the field most of the season,” Crain said. “Then Michaela (Bitle) got hurt and I had to step up and fill in at goalie.
“Tonight, after they scored, I had to keep my head up and our team played very well and I couldn’t have done it without the team especially Jadyn scoring that goal in overtime.”
The season did not end for either team Thursday night as both now await seeding for the CIF NorCal Regional which begins on Tuesday.