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FLC plays for title

One Sac-Joaquin Section championship. Two teams fighting to make history.

Will the Forest Lake Christian girls soccer team win its program’s first-ever girls soccer section title or will Modesto Christian snag its third-consecutive Division V section championship?

The two teams are on a collision course to find out Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Lincoln High School (Stockton).



All but three of Modesto Christian’s players have played in a section championship game, with not a single player for the Falcons having done so. For the Crusaders, qualifying for the playoffs and playing in the section title game are program expectations year in and year out.

But talk to Modesto Christian coach Mark Chase and his team is far from overconfident going into the contest.




“I’ve done this long enough to know that any team in the playoffs should be taken seriously,” Chase said. “If you don’t, you’ll go home real fast.”

Add to that equation the Falcons beating Modesto Christian’s chief Southern League rival in Central Catholic 3-1 Tuesday in the first round of the playoffs – a team the Crusaders lost to twice this season – and the game has all the makings of a showdown. Sprinkle in the fact that Modesto Christian beat Victory Christian 2-1 Tuesday, when just a week before the Falcons prevailed against that same team 5-2.

But both coaching staffs are quick to warn that comparing the two situations can be dangerous when trying to predict the outcome of Saturday’s match up.

By all indications, the fiercest fight in the game seems to be the one shaping up between the Crusader’s defense and the Falcons’ offense. Modesto Christian has only given up seven goals throughout the entire season, whereas Forest Lake Christian seems to draw the most praise from opposing teams about its offensive attack.

Five of the Falcons’ six players usually involved in the team’s offensive game plan are upperclassmen, with three of those players seniors. Midfielder Jillian Witzke, a senior captain, leads the Falcons with 19 goals with junior Shelby Lowe totaling 13 goals. Sophomore forward Jessica Raskin adds eight goals and a team-high nine assists.

While those areas of the field seem to be strong points for both teams, the opposite site of the ball will be no picnic either.

Modesto Christian has scored 99 goals this season, with junior forward Shannon Reimer notching 30 goals and 16 assists. Last season, as a sophomore, Reimer led Northern California with 51 goals. But Chase reports that much of his team’s offense begins with its defense in the form of swift counter attacks from the back.

On the flip side, the Falcons have given up just four goals in their past six contests and averaged less than one goal per game the entire season. Senior captain and stopper Sarah Hodges marks the beginning of that Falcon defense with sophomore Jordan England the last man at sweeper and Taryn McGirr and Aubrey Stelzner at outside marking backs. Sophomore Katie Fletcher is now the regular starter in the goal.

This will be the first time in the past three season the teams have played one another, with the Crusaders especially looking forward to playing a team outside their league in the section championship game.

As for the Falcons, they’re simply focusing on playing the kind of soccer they’ve played all year and letting that dictate the outcome of the game.

ooo

To contact sports writer Stacy Hicklin, e-mail stacyh@the union.com or call 477-4244.

Know & Go

What: Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Girls Soccer Championship

Who: Forest Lake Christian vs. Modesto Christian

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Lincoln High School (Stockton)

Directions: Take I-80 West to I-5 South. Travel 45.5 miles and take the Benjamin Holt Drive exit 477. Turn left onto W. Benjamin Holt Drive. Turn left onto Alexandria Place.


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