FLC soccer heads for title bout
Jason Pulliam knew exactly how high the stakes were when he stepped back into the goal Thursday night for a penalty kick shootout in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI soccer semifinals.
As a sophomore two years ago, Pulliam watched his fellow Forest Lake Christian Falcons fall to Central Catholic in the same scenario in the section semis. This time, though, the ball would be coming his way.
Fortunately for FLC, the Le Grand Bulldogs (10-9-3) were off the mark on two of four penalty kicks, while the Falcons caught net on all four of theirs, as Forest Lake Christian won an overtime shootout to break a 1-1 tie and earn a berth in Saturday’s D-VI championship.
“There’s always pressure when you’ve got to do that,” said Pulliam. “You either shake it off you just crack.”
After a pair of overtime sessions failed to snap the 1-1 tie, the Central Valley Christian League champion Falcons (20-3-3) didn’t crack on their one-on-one, penalty-kick duels with Le Grand goalkeeper Noe Leon.
Senior Andreas Zeischegg, who scored FLC’s lone goal in regulation, got things started with a score to the bottom left of the goal. Le Grand’s Alejandro Rosas answered with a score to the upper right side.
On the next round Ben Sparling scored on the bottom right, which was immediately answered again by the Bulldogs, this time by Jose Garcia.
Yet on round three, after FLC’s Taylor Bigelow scored to the bottom right, Le Grand’s Santos Rodriguez lifted his shot over the top left of the crossbar for a miss, opening the door for the Falcons.
And once Mitch Seman scored to the bottom left on FLC’s next shot, and Cody Jacobsen’s shot ricocheted off the left post, the Falcons were bound for the SJS championship for the first time since 2003.
“We said ‘pick a corner and go for it,'” FLC coach Thad Kopec said of the shootout strategy. “This is just a big win. It was a great game.”
That win was in jeopardy late in the match due to an own goal scored by the Falcons. On a kick flying toward the FLC goal, three Falcons tried to head the ball out of the way, but the ball bounced right into Forest Lake Christian’s own goal for a 1-1 score.
“Our goalkeeper should have punched that out. He should have taken more charge there,” said Kopec. “I’m glad we were able to rebound off that, though. Sometimes you don’t.”
FLC was the first on the scoreboard, as Zeischegg took a pass from Seman in front of the Le Grand goal, pirouetted 180 degrees to face the keeper and launched the ball. Even though Leon got his hands on the ball, the velocity of the kick spun the ball right into the net.
Forest Lake Christian will face Lindhurst in Saturday’s 10 a.m. championship match at Folsom High School. The Golden Empire League champion Blazers (12-2-1) defeated Southern League champ Turlock Christian (20-5-1) Wednesday by a 2-1 score.
The Falcons will be shooting for the school’s fourth soccer section championship and first since 2002, when FLC defeated Le Grand in the Division V championship 2-1 in overtime.
Forest Lake Christian also won Division IV titles in 1997 and 1998.
The Falcons latest appearance in a section championship match came in 2003, when FLC fell 4-0 to CVCL foe Sacramento Waldorf.
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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With a balanced offensive attack and a strong defensive effort, the Nevada Union football team went on the road Friday night and knocked off Napa, 33-14