Oakdale High’s biggest threats to a Sac-Joaquin Section girls soccer championship may be on the opposite side of the Division IV bracket, but with a star player down with an injury and three very tough teams looming on their own side of the bracket, nothing is guaranteed.
The Lady Mustangs squeezed past Sonora in a 1-0 decision last week to finish 11-2-1 for sole championship honors from the Valley Oak League. They did it without spectacular sophomore midfielder Kerri Feuerstein, who went down with an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) strain with three games to go in conference play.
The No. 1 seed gives Oakdale a favorable first round match-up with Sierra Valley Conference No. 3 seed, Galt, when they open the D-IV playoffs at home on Tuesday, May 17.
Galt (9-5-6 overall, 5-3-4 SVC) struggled to win less than half of their conference games this season, and were dispatched twice by a combined 12-2 stanza by undefeated SVC champion, Vista del Lago of Folsom (14-1, 12-0).
Vista del Lago and VOL runner-up Sierra (14-2-6, 9-1-4) are on the top half of the D-IV bracket, and are expected to face in the semi-finals.
If Oakdale can get past Galt, they will face the winner of SVC No. 2 Cosumnes Oaks (8-4-4, 6-3-3) and Western Athletic Conference champion Central Catholic (13-2-2, 8-1-1).
The Raiders of Modesto have seen a strong season, but could struggle in their first season since a move from Division V to Division IV (they were SJS runner-ups at D-V last year). Central Catholic’s lone non-league blemish is a 3-1 loss to Vista del Lago to start the 2011 season.
But before Oakdale can worry about Central Catholic or potentially Cosumnes Oaks in the May 19 semi-final, they have to take care of business on Tuesday.
Galt sports an even ratio of goals scored and goals against (28-28) and is just 1-2-1 in their last four contests. But they twice tied Cosumnes Oaks and should threaten to score with senior striker Kim Hernandez (13 goals) who had two against Vista del Lago.
Galt may not be the toughest D-IV team in the bracket, but they certainly won’t be overlooked.
“You never know what is going to happen,” Oakdale coach Alfredo Quiroga said. “Records can be misleading, so we have to make sure we play our game and take care of business without making costly mistakes.”
Jill Kahler scored Oakdale’s lone goal against Sonora on the road Tuesday when Wildcat defenders stacked their side of the field with all 11 players. She also played a part in both scores during a 2-1 win over Manteca to clinch the VOL title on the home field Monday, May 2.
With Feuerstein (three scores against Sierra) out with an injury, Kahler and the all the Lady Mustangs will need to be in top shape to emerge atop the D-IV ladder this month.
Putting together a tremendous season of their own, the JV girls were also crowned champions of the Valley Oak League, finishing it off with a decisive 5-0 road win at Sonora on May 3. The win gave the squad a 12-1-1 record in league play and the shutout was the 11th one on the league season for the JV team. They put together an impressive goals for-goals against ratio, putting in 75 goals in their 14 VOL games this season while allowing just five to their opponents all year.
On Tuesday, several players got involved in the scoring, as the girls put in two goals in the first half and then capped it off with three more in the second.
Izzy Arellano got the JV Lady Mustangs on the board about seven minutes in, beating the Wildcat keeper, and midway through the first, midfielder Brittany Carpenter saw her throw-in go off the fingertips of the keeper to make it 2-0.
Second half scoring came from Christina Bradshaw, getting a goal off an assist from Carpenter about 17 minutes in and it was Bradshaw again a minute later, this time taking a pass from Hannah Hanko, who got to play up top in the second half instead of her usual position in net. Arellano got her second goal of the day on an assist from Montana Nunes to close out the scoring.
This was the second straight VOL title for the JV girls.