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Falcons seek first playoff win

Keith Jiron

The last three years have seen the Forest Lake Christian girls soccer team blaze a trail through the school’s record book.

The Falcons first trek into uncharted territory came in 2002, when they earned their first berth into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

The following season, the Royal and White hanged its first Central Valley Christian League championship banner on the gymnasium wall.

This season, the two-time defending CVCL champion Falcons will zero in on their first playoff victory when they host Southern League runner-up Central Catholic (Modesto) in a section Division V first-round showdown 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“I feel really good about this year. I feel like we’ve earned this. We’ve worked really hard all season. Now it’s time to step it up,” Falcon junior Brittney Gilfillan said. “It seems like we’re working better as a team (than in previous years) and we’re all benefiting from that.”

The winner will earn a ticket to the section finals at Lincoln High School in Stockton at noon Saturday.

If making a bit more school history isn’t enough of an incentive, the Falcons can always look to payback for motivation.

Central Catholic embarrassed an inexperienced and undermanned Falcon squad 6-0 in their first-round playoff tilt two seasons ago.

The Raiders went on to claim the section’s Division IV crown with a 2-0 victory over CVCL power Sacramento Country Day.

FLC played Central Catholic tough in the following season’s first round at FLC, but fell 2-1.

The Falcons were left to think about what could have been, when less than a week later the Raiders pummeled Sacramento Country Day 4-1 to take the Division V final.

” The first year we played them, we weren’t as talented as we are now and they really dominated. (Plus) I think we were more intimidated of them,” FLC senior Lauren Clough said. “They were a physical, determined team (in 2002) and it was the same last year, but we improved a lot over that year. It seemed like we were really close to them as far as talent goes.”

It’s true Central Catholic’s defense has done a number on FLC in its previous two meetings, but that may change this year.

The Falcons boast a pair of 16-goal scorers in Gilfillan and Carrie Gueman.

Gillfillan, whose tallied four multi-goal matches this season, including a hat trick versus Faith Christian (Yuba City) April 25, has hit the back of the net in three of the last five games.

Gueman, who has scored a goal in four of the last five games, has posted multiple goals in five games this year. The sophomore had a hat trick of her own in a league game versus Victory Christian (Carmichael) April 1.

If the Raiders happen to find answers for Gilfillan and Gueman, the Falcons have plenty more weapons to choose from.

Megan Stallings, a sophomore, and Andrea Lowe, a freshman, have scored 11 goals each.

Throw sophomore Jillian Witzke’s nine goals, and freshman Shelby Lowe’s eight scores into the mix and it’s easy to see why the Falcons are smiling.

“This year has been awesome. Our team’s better than its ever been before,” Clough said.

Defensively, FLC has posted 13 shutouts thanks in part to the play of defenders Gilfillan, Kelly Ginney, Rachel Hodges and Sarah Hodges along with goaltenders Amber Harman and Samantha Van Winkle.

“We really didn’t have our complete team for a while to start the season. We had already played three league games by the time we got everybody back from the basketball team,” FLC co-head coach Colleen Winans said. “But Something that really helped was we didn’t lose anyone from last year. That allowed us to do drill with a lot more depth instead of just going over the fundamentals. This year we could work more to strengthen our options.”

___

Sac-Joaquin Section

Division V

First Round

Central Catholic (Modesto) at

Forest Lake Christian

3:30 p.m. today


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