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Tigers flying high in SFL soccer

Roseville continue major turnaround season
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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A dominating first-half performance made the difference Monday as the Roseville High soccer team put itself in even better position with a 2-1 win over Oakmont. In a game that was rescheduled after the rain forced its cancellation last week, the Tigers took advantage of two good first-half scoring chances and then made the lead stand up to solidify their hold on the league’s second position. Roseville was the aggressor in the early going, putting heavy pressure on the Oakmont defense. The attacking style caused a pair of Viking miscues that Tanner Roland cashed in. Just 10 minutes into the match, a bad pass out of the back ended up at Roland’s feet about 25 yards out on the right side. Oakmont goalkeeper Brandon Vargas was caught in no-man’s land between challenging the ball and defending the frame, and Roland’s quick strike was in the net before he could recover. Another mistake in back gave the Tigers the ball near midfield with five minutes to go before intermission. Roland was able to run onto a through-ball just before Vargas could get there, and he pushed the ball past the keeper towards the goal. Oakmont defender Tyler Kuresa tried to get back on the ball for the save, but he was too late and the Tigers took a 2-0 lead to the break. “It was a great first half,” said Roseville coach Pablo Gutierrez. The Tigers were not able to duplicate the dominance in the second stanza and had to withstand a furious Oakmont flurry for most of that 40 minutes. The Vikings were able to get to the scoring area, but just once, when Santiago Lopez cleaned up during some confusion after a corner kick, did they find the back of the net. “Roy (Pedro) and Robert (Work) had some great chances within eight yards of the goal in the first and second half to equalize or pull us back and last year or two those would have gone in but not this year for some odd reason,” said Oakmont coach Mark Broers. “The composure and confidence finishing has been lacking and we have really worked on it to no avail.” Roseville has benefited from Gutierrez’ juggling of his lineup. The move of Giovanni Reader to midfield has drastically enhanced his team’s capacity for scoring up top, with the combination of Roland and Alex Both doing a nice job holding the ball in and finishing on the offensive end. The Vikings goal game while Reader was on the sidelines after receiving a yellow card, and his re-entry in the back line left the Roseville midfield struggling to keep the defensive zone clean. “Oakmont came fired up in the second half,” Gutierrez said. “I think what gave them an edge was when Reader was yellow-carded.” They took advantage of his space and that's when they scored. When I put Reader back in, it was as a stopper. Our midfield struggled the last 15-20 minutes.” Offensively for Roseville, Roland was the difference. His size, strength, skill on the ball and speed make him a near impossible matchup in every contest. “Tanner is a strong forward who works very well as a target,” Broers said. “You can drive him a ball. He holds it, dribbles or lays it off. He had five good chances to score against us in two games and scored three. We couldn't afford to double him because we were chasing the game and the league and needed to score. That may have made a difference if we had better standing in the league and game but desperate times call for desperate measures.” Roseville (6-2-1) sits in second place in the highly competitive SFL, and with three teams headed to the playoffs, the Tigers are in good position to get one of those spots. Oakmont (2-5-1) is a talented team that has put itself in an almost impossible position, with lots of work to do. That sense of desperation and the familiarity of these two teams with each other led to a highly physical style of soccer. Oakmont was playing without one of its most talented players, forward Cole Alexander and Broers has also seen injuries decimate his team. “It hurt not having Cole up front,” Broers said. “He plays like Tanner when it comes to collecting and holding or taking opponents on. We had to juggle our lineup and we lost C.J. Hack to a fractured forearm in the last slide tackle he made at midfield. We will have to make changes on defense now that CJ is finished and we already lost Travis McAuley to a fractured collarbone so we are left with three defenders now.” Oakmont faces Rocklin (4-4) Tuesday and hosts Granite Bay (8-0) Thursday. Every day brings a must-win situation for the Vikings. Roseville hosts the Grizzlies Tuesday and visits Woodcreek (2-6) Thursday as it looks to seal up that spot in the section tournament. “As far as the playoffs I don't want to celebrate until we are 100 percent we're in,” Gutierrez said. “Today the focus will be Granite Bay. We are a different team. It should be a better match than last time.”