Tigers shut down Grant's speed, advance to soccer semis

Roland, Both score in Roseville win
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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An early goal provided the energy needed to carry the Roseville High soccer team past Grant Friday night in playoff action. The 2-0 win in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II tournament puts the Tigers among the three Sierra Foothill League teams who will gather in Folsom for Wednesday’s semifinals. This Roseville team was far different than the one that lost its season opener at Grant back in late August. “The last time we played, they totally outplayed us,” said Roseville coach Pablo Gutierrez. “Now our defense is much better at filling the open spaces and with Giovanni Reader in the midfield we have that middle level as we move the ball forward. Where it was going from one to three, we now can pass it from one to two to three.” As has been key for them in a few of their biggest wins, the Tigers lit up the scoreboard very early and put the Pacers immediately into crisis mode. Tanner Roland scored on a header just two minutes into the contest, after a great cross from Alex Both as Roseville attacked from the get-go. “We know we need to come out strong early,” Roland said. “Grant did a better job moving the ball this time than the first time we played them so the early lead was important.” The Pacers never backed off of their relentless pressure and fast, physical play, and Roland bore the brunt of the banging. “I like it to be physical,” Roland said. “It keeps the game intense and helps keep me in the game.” While Both and Roland worked hard to hold the ball forward, Roseville received some crucial back-line play from Tyrone Richardson and Micah Hayes. Goalkeeper Josh Pulver was solid once again for the Tigers. For most of the first half, it was Grant exerting the bulk of the pressure, but the Pacers were unable to finish. Speed was the quality most on display for Grant, and senior Hector Casadez and Ivan Garibay were constantly running at the Roseville defense with speed and strength. Fortunately for the Tigers, all of the balls that were not playable for Pulver were completely off target, leaving Roseville leading 1-0 for most of the battle. Reader had a great chance on the end of a corner kick late in the first half, but his shot sailed high and bounced off the crossbar and away from the goal. One of the Tigers’ scariest moments came in the 46th minute, early in the second half, when a Grant corner kick set up an open shot on the frame. Bijan Razvan had responsibility at the near post, and he delivered in style, clearing the ball off the line as the shot was headed for an equalizing tally. Both scored in the 62nd minute after a nice passing combination from Roland to Reader and then over the top to put him in position to find the far post, and the Tigers had the margin for error that they needed. Next up for Roseville is a rematch with SFL rival Rocklin at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the first semifinal at Folsom’s Prairie City Stadium. “It’s going to be a great game,” Gutierrez said. “They’re hungry to beat us and I think we’re ready.” “We know what they do,” Roland said. “They know what we do. We know where they want to go with the ball when they attack.” The Tigers finished second in the regular season SFL staadings and Rocklin was the third-place team. Those two teams will be joined by Granite Bay and Oak Ridge in the DII final four.