By Jeremy McDonald
LINCOLN-- Three years ago, the Western Sierra Collegiate Academy had their first game as a program against Victory Christian.
They lost 7-1.
Three years later, under cloudy and windy conditions at Fosket Park, the Wolves not just avenge that loss with a 8-1 victory Thursday night in the CIF-Sac Joaquin Section Division-VII playoff opener, they also did something else.
Won the schools first ever playoff game.
“It’s inspiring,” said Noelle DiGrazia. “It feels like we’re leaving a legacy here for our fellow classmates to go up to that standard.”
“To be apart of this team for the past three years,” started goalie Chloe Rowlett. “To finally have something to show that WSCA has the athletics to prove that we’re strong enough as a team.
“Ironically, the very first game that we played with our program three years ago, they beat us 7-1,” “We kind of came full circle, we’ve won 8-1.”
The first 17 minutes of the game indicated a pound-for-pound heavyweight battle as goals by Julissa Bonilla and Noelle DiGrazia was matched by a 17th-minute goal by Allison Jacobs as Western Sierra held a 2-1 lead.
But that was the closest that the Vikings would get as by halftime it was 5-1 Western Sierra and Bonilla and DiGrazia both had two goals apiece and Lindsay Hendrickson got one in the final minute before halftime.
“We kept our cool, played our game and ultimately it’s WSCA soccer and it’s how we play,” said Bonilla.
Hendrickson would join the two-goal ‘brace’ party by the 50th minute mark and got her third ‘hat trick’ goal with 18 minutes left in the game as the Wolves played within themselves.
“We’ve been working on mental toughness all week, control the things we can control,” said head coach Scott Crosson. “We came out and mentally took this game from the beginning. We had a full team commitment which turned into a lot of good soccer for us today.”
Lauren Diercks added the last goal of the game in the 72nd minute as Western Sierra defense kept the attack of Victory Christian at bay.
“We probably have one of the strongest defensive team’s I’ve seen,” said Rowlett. “Not just me as goalie but we have a mix of freshman, sophomores and juniors that have unbelievable communications and chemistry and it ties together so well.”
The Wolves will now turn their focus to Forest Lake Christian, who defeated Big Valley Christian 9-0 Wednesday afternoon.
“We can’t just be happy with this,” said Crosson on the win. “This was a great win, don’t get me wrong. But this team has the potential, we’re one game away from the section finals, which will be another history making opportunity.”
“The amount of effort we put into this team the last three years is going to want to push us the entire way,” said Rowlett. “We don’t want to stop with one win to the semi-finals, we want to take it all the way.”