By Jeremy McDonald
ELK GROVE -- Finishing 6-6 and in fifth place in the Sierra Foothill League, the Rocklin Girls Soccer team weren't expecting to go far in the playoffs in 2015.
Not just they shock the bracket, they took defending CIF-Sac Joaquin Section Division-II Champions the distance; forcing the Golden Eagles to try to beat them on penalty kicks.
Del Oro did just that however, winning the PK battle 3-1 after being held scoreless in the 100 minutes prior to repeat as Section Champs.
“No one thought we’d be here today to make it this for in our season,” said Lindsay Erl. “We finished fourth in our league and made it to the championship.
“We fought to the last minute. Played with a lot of heart, played with passion and played as a team.”
In the PK round, Slyvia Sloss nailed the first penalty kick, the Thunder's Faith Hollway tied it up in the second round.
Rachel Gensch gave Del Oro a 2-1 advantage on the next kick, the Eagles Aubrey Goodwill and Rocklin's Christina Lazar and Marisa Synder's shots all were saved.
"I honestly wasn't thinking much during the PKs," said DO's goalkeeper Alyssa Leaman. "That's one of the situations where you have to put trust into the proper preparation in training."
But Emily Curry's shot was the deciding factor in the game as it got past Thunder goalkeeper Jamie Goodwin's fingers for the win.
“We put everything out there on the field (today),” said Goodwin. “We did everything we could.”
Head coach Paul Morrison added to that.
“It was a hard fought game, getting to the 100 minutes and holding them to without a score against the players they have on that team. It’s a lot to be proud of and we hit the target,” Morrison said on the game.
“It could’ve gone either way in the penalty kick shootout. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.”
For the 100 minutes of the regulation and extra timw that led to the penalty kicks both teams the game with the physicality.
Both teams had their runs offensively in the match but couldn't find the back of the net as a handful of shots either met with the top bar of the goal or rolled away from the goal itself.
A scary moment occurred in the opening moments of the second half when Maddy Morrison went down with an ankle injury and the Eagles answered by pressing the stunned Rocklin defense.
Despite getting shots at goal, the Thunder denied one after another Del Oros valiant attempts to score behind Synder and Goodwin's leadership.
“I tried my hardest for the people around me,” said Goodwin on her performance. “I know it could be there last game (ever), I just tried my best.”
Morrison came back with 18 minutes to go after icing her right ankle and the intensity of the Rocklin team was restored as the midfielders on both sides struggled to slow down the long ball.
“I think that our defense played extremely well as they have done all season, especially under the pressure of the long balls Rocklin was sending forward,” said Leaman. “As a team we remained composed for the majority of the game.”
The long balling continued into the two overtime frames, but it almost paid off in the final moments of the second overtime frame for the Eagles if it wasn't for Goodwin's hands in what looked like a Inspector Gadget-isc stretch save as both teams entered the best-of-five penalty kicks round.
Despite's Holloway's kick being the only kick made for the Thunder, Paul Morrison will be returning all but three seniors from this year's team to next.
“The biggest thing Is that I hope the leadership from each of our seniors is carried on in the spirit of the juniors and the sophomores and the freshman who are coming up because that is the foundation of what you can do in soccer.
“Those people who are the oldest on your team who have the most respect on your team; when they set forth that type of example, it changes everything.”