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Sierra struggles to keep up with prolific Vista del Lago
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Vista del Lago is for real.

Sierra High’s boys soccer team found that out in Folsom Thursday, when the Timberwolves took on one of California’s top clubs in the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs.

Vista standout Tim Fairley produced a hat trick as the Eagles rolled to a 5-0 victory. They will encounter East Union, which crosstown rival Sierra beat twice in three contests this year, in the championship round Saturday.

“Vista del Lago is by far the better team (than East Union), but they still have to play the game,” Sierra coach Jose Montes said. Anything can happen on that day. I think East Union has a chance because they have the physical size that we don’t. They can bang with their guys a little bit on corner kicks.”

Montes said Vista del Lago (17-0-1) overpowered his Timberwolves (14-4-4) with superior size but also beat them with speed. Fairley himself did both. He accounted for two of the Eagles’ three first-half goals, one with a header and another on a breakaway.

“We hung with them for 20 minutes, then (Fairley) scored on a corner kick,” Montes said. “We didn’t have the height to match up with them and they were a little bit stronger, but with (Fairley) it’s not just that — he’s also very fast with the ball.”

Vista del Lago has been on an absolute tear of late. It hasn’t given up a goal since a 7-1 win over River City in a Sierra Valley Conference match on Oct. 17. The Eagles outscored their next five opponents, including their two postseason foes, 30-0.

If there was anything gained from Thursday’s contest, it was experience. Sierra loses 10 seniors to graduation but returns a wealth of young talent next year.

“We lost the game, but now we know there is a standard for us to match up to,” Montes said. “(Vista) is a solid team and we don’t see that caliber of play all season.

“We had a good run and I’m proud of the kids. There was a lesson to learn today and we’ll prepare for next year starting now.”