Stampede playoff hopes alive |

Stampede playoff hopes alive

Submitted to The Union

The Gold Country Stampede hosted two division opponents last weekend and kept their playoff bid alive with two solid wins.

The Stampede are currently ranked No. 10 by the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association and have three games left to go in the regular season. With the top eight teams advancing to the playoffs, the Stampede needed these two wins to stay in contention.

On Saturday, the Yuba City Chiatku squad came to Hooper stadium looking to change the outcome of the previous meeting in Yuba City, which the Stampede won 15-3. However, Saturday's match ended in almost the same score with Stampede dominating again 14-3. Fielding only 13 players against 20 Yuba City players, the Stampede might have looked overmatched before the start of the game. But the only players who matter are the 10 on the field, and the Stampede's squad clearly controlled the game.

The Stampede scored consistently all game with three goals in the first, three in the second, three in the third and five in the fourth.

Senior attackman J.T. Mortara led all scorers with five goals. Sophomore attackman Derek Adelman had four goals, senior attackman Luke Agness had three goals and freshman midfielder Peter McDowell added two goals. Playing without senior captain defender Zane Weinberger, the defense was challenged, but keeper Nickolai Breiter continued his strong season with nine saves.

On Sunday, the Stampede hosted the Red Bluff Warriors, who currently sit at third place in the division. The game took place on natural grass at the Sierra College Rotary Field, which made play much slower than on the turf field at NU.

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Although Red Bluff's squad is about the same size as the Stampede, the Warriors have consistently won against the weaker division teams. In the first half, the Warriors showed good passing and matched the Stampede goal for goal. At halftime, the score was tied at 4-4.

However, in the third quarter, the Stampede took control of the game with five goals to the Warriors' one. Agness scored two, and Adelman, McDowell and senior midfielder Tony Richardson all scored one each.

The Stampede added three more goals in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

The defense was helped by the return of Weinberger and another strong game by Breiter at keeper.

After the Red Bluff game, head coach Chuck Hemmert told the players the playoffs are within their grasp if they continue playing well in the final three games.

"Gentlemen," Hemmert said, "in the next three weeks we play the seventh-ranked, the fourth-ranked and the second-ranked teams. I think two of those teams are beatable, so the playoffs are in your hands."

Gold Country plays Folsom United in Folsom Friday at 5:30 p.m., and the Orangevale Rams Sunday at 1 p.m. in Orangevale.

Elk Grove 14, Gold Country 7

The Stampede junior varsity team continued to demonstrate a higher level of motivation, team spirit and energy this past weekend. Playing two games against teams they had yet to meet this season, they came out ready to do their best.

The Stampede faced the Elk Grove Gladiators on a hot Saturday in Elk Grove.

Mason Picard energized his team by scoring the first goal of the game for Stampede. After a goal by the Gladiators, Stampede attackman Philip Holland scored from just outside the crease.

Elk Grove answered with four of their own goals. Canyon Drake put another one on the board for Stampede, which brought the score at the close of the first quarter in Elk Grove's favor 5-3.

During the second quarter, the Gladiators added three while Stampede was only able to add another one by Picard. At the half, Stampede trailed the Gladiators by four. The third quarter would prove a tough one, as they were unable to score despite some impressive offensive passing plays. Elk Grove put up four unanswered points, which made the score at the close of the quarter 12-4 in Elk Grove's favor.

In the final quarter of play, the Stampede began to rally and was able to hold the Gladiators to only two goals, while adding three of their own. Drake and Alex Abreu both scored on assists by Picard, and Drake added another all his own. It was too little too late and Stampede fell to the Gladiators 14-7.

On Sunday, the JV Stampede faced a team from Rancho Cotati at home. The JV boys played very well as the players tried out different positions. Midfielders played attack, defenders were midfielders, attackmen were on the defense. Coaches Donn Demostene and Matt Mantovan know that this approach not only allows players to try on different positions for size, but also allows them to see the game from their teammates' perspectives. In turn, players begin to understand the challenges of other positions while also learning how they can improve.

Philip Holland and Reid Johnson each scored a goal, while Alex Abreu scored twice. Mason Picard and Jimmy Vaughn impressed with ground ball fielding, and Holland, Picard and Owen Warner all made multiple shot attempts. In the end, they could not defeat the older, bigger and undefeated Rancho Cotati team, losing, 14-4. However, players on this junior varsity team are demonstrating such growth with each game, making every match up a victory. The junior varsity Stampede may not have won their games, but their team spirit is winning them fans everywhere.

Yuba City 10, Gold Country 7

Gold Country's under-15 Stampede squad played their third home game of the season at Nevada Union's Hooper Stadium on Saturday against the Yuba City Chiatku.

The Stampede lost a close one with a final score of 10-7.

Gold Country's Simon Nielson scored first with an assist from Evan Olson, both of whom play offense. Yuba City scored twice to lead 2-1 at the end of the first quarter.

Midfielder Drew Heaps scored all three of the Stampede's goals in the second quarter. Two of the goals, Heaps won the face-off, sprinted to the Yuba City goal and scored unassisted. His third goal was with an assist by Nielson.

Yuba City scored a pair of goals and the first half ended with the score tied 4-4.

The score remained close in the third quarter. The Stampede's attackmen Jack Matteini and Evan Olson scored goals in the third quarter. The Olson goal put the Stampede ahead briefly. However, Yuba City scored twice in the last two minutes of the quarter to lead 7-6 at the end of the third quarter.

The Stampede could only manage one score in the fourth quarter, Olson's second goal.

Yuba City added three goals in the last quarter to secure the win.

Despite the Stampede's great effort, the team was hindered by a lack of depth, three reserves compared to 13 for the Chiatku, and playing shorthanded due to excessive penalties.

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