After shaking hands with Rocklin’s Thunder Wednesday night, Nevada Union goalkeeper Robby Slaughter stopped for a midfield chat with one of his teammates from club soccer.
But after congratulating Cameron Pettey on Rocklin’s 2-0 win over his Miners, Slaughter started walking toward the sideline and he wasn’t wearing a smile.
Although the senior acknowledged an improvement over the Miners’ 4-0 loss to the Sierra Foothill League-leading Thunder in the teams’ first meeting, Slaughter also knew Nevada Union (5-5-1) missed an opportunity to stake a claim at a Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs berth with Wednesday’s loss.
“We really want to go to the playoffs,” Slaughter said.
With a win over host Roseville on Friday – and some help in the form of a Granite Bay win over Del Oro – the Miners would be headed to the postseason.
“I’d be so happy if we made that happen Friday,” said Slaughter. “It’s our last year. We’ve got to go out with a bang. That would be nice.”
Heading into the match, Nevada Union stood in third place in the SFL standings. By late Wednesday night, after Del Oro defeated Roseville 2-1, the Miners had slipped to fourth.
The top three teams qualify for the playoffs.
With each SFL victory worth three points, and each tie worth one, the Miners have totaled 16 points in league standings.
Both Rocklin (9-1-1) and second-place Granite Bay (8-3) are locks for the postseason with 28 and 24 points, respectively.
Del Oro (5-5-3) now stands in third place with 18 points, while Roseville (4-6-2) remains in fifth place with place with 14 points.
A win over Roseville on Friday would lift Nevada Union to 19 points, but a win by Del Oro would give the Golden Eagles 21 – and the third and final SFL playoff slot.
Whichever team emerges from Friday’s matches with the playoff ticket in hand, they’ll hit the road in the first round of the Division II section tournament against the champion from the Sierra Valley Conference. Ponderosa leads the SVC with an 8-0-2 record.
In Wednesday’s match, Rocklin’s Ryan Prince put the Thunder up 1-0 in the first half. The senior forward broke away for a one-on-one with Slaughter and left-footed the ball into the right side of the goal.
Rocklin scored again in the second half when Pettey, a senior midfielder, pushed the ball on a cross to classmate Jake Mayoral, who kicked the ball with his heel into the lower right corner of the goal.
Nevada Union finished with five shots on goal to the Thunder’s seven.
“We played them better than we played them at their place,” said NU head coach Mike Voss. “They only had two shots in the second half, which was what we were trying to do, and they got one of them.
“That’s why they’re number one.”
Whether or not Granite Bay gives NU some help with a win over Del Oro, Slaughter – who had five saves between the pipes for the Miners – expects Nevada Union to take care of its own business on the road Friday.
Nevada Union defeated Roseville 2-0 on Oct. 5, a home match that saw the Miners limit the Tigers to just one shot on goal.
“I think we should do just fine,” said Slaughter said. “Since it will come down to who really wants this, I know we can make this happen – as long as we play as a team.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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EL DORADO — Nevada Union’s up and down season continued Friday night as the Miners struggled mightily in a 41-7 loss to the Union Mine Diamondbacks.