Home field advantage – even in the rain – proved sweet for Oakdale, as the varsity soccer team notched a pair of playoff victories in front of a supportive home crowd this past week.
The Lady Mustangs soccer program entered the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs as the number four seed. Oakdale finished the regular season with a tie and two losses but have put that bad stretch behind them, playing solid defense and explosive offense in their first two postseason games. With wins of 6-1 and 5-1 to start off, Oakdale has made a playoff push to the semifinals.
As a four seed, Oakdale hosted the 13th seed Laguna Creek Cardinals on Tuesday, May 5. Senior forward Ashley Arnett made her presence felt as she scored the team’s first two goals. Arnett struck in minute number five and then again on an assist from Jazmine Velazquez in the 11th minute to take a 2-0 first half lead. The Cardinals got on the board in the 17th minute, but would not find the net again for the rest of the evening. The Lady Mustangs shook off the goal and went right back to work as Madison Feuerstein scored in the 23rd minute to bring the lead to 3-1. Minutes later, near a crowded goal, Denise Thompson scored a goal off the defender to expand the Lady Mustangs lead to 4-1. They took that three-goal lead into the break.
Deep into the second half, Logan Laugero shared the wealth with two assists. Laugero found Arnett in the 22nd minute and then Feuerstein again in the 33rd minute for the team’s final goal.
On Thursday, May 7 Oakdale was back on the home field for round two, this time hosting El Camino. The 12th seeded Eagles were flying high, coming off an upset win over the number five seed Kimball Jaguars in the opening round.
Thursday’s late afternoon sky was full of dark clouds and the rain shortly followed, coming down late in the first half and continuing through most of the second half as well. But not even ferocious conditions, or chippy play could slow down Arnett and company. El Camino took a late first half lead on a goal by Maddi King, the ball slipping through keeper Mackenzie Weiglein after she appeared to have made the save. Shaking that off, the host Lady Mustangs – who had attacked consistently, pummeled the Eagle goalie and done everything in the early going but find the net – were able to blast home the equalizer as Arnett found Feuerstein in the 35th minute to even things up just before the half. Oakdale’s high powered offense came out fully charged, as the girls scored three goals in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. A Lexi Halsey pass to Arnett four minutes in gave Oakdale their first lead of the game at 2-1. Feuerstein, on a corner kick, then found Arnett who scored the goal on a header to expand the lead to 3-1. Feuerstein took matters into her own hands as she scored a goal of her own three minutes later. Oakdale’s final goal came on an Arnett kick in the 29th minute, the standout senior coming back with a vengeance after sitting out briefly following a takedown from behind from an Eagle defender.
With first and second round wins under their collective belt, Oakdale will travel to Manteca to face a familiar foe in the top seeded East Union Lady Lancers in semifinal round action today, Wednesday, May 13. East Union swept Oakdale during the regular season, 3-2 and 5-1.
“When playoffs start, you are a different team. The girls are motivated and know what challenge faces them against East Union,” said head coach Alfredo Quiroga. “You take the intensity to a new level in the playoffs. It is going to take flawless soccer to beat them. We need to minimize our mistakes and take advantage of theirs to advance to the finals.”
Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13. If the Lady Mustangs take down East Union, they will face either third ranked Manteca or 10th seeded Ponderosa in the Section finals. That contest is set for Saturday, May 16 at a neutral site, and time has yet to be determined.