Woodcreek, Granite Bay are tied for first in SFL soccer

Timberwolves are thinking title, playoffs as second half begins
By: Brett Ransford/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Woodcreek High School finished the first half of Sierra Foothill League play with a late goal and a 1-0 win over visiting Del Oro on Friday night.

A quick through ball behind the Del Oro defense from Cody Meza fed Spencer Weitzel for the goal in the 73rd minute and pushed the Timberwolves (4-0-1 SFL) into a first-place tie with Granite Bay.

Weitzel finished with a left-footed shot low into the far-side netting past a diving Nick Herman, who otherwise was spectacular in goal.

Woodcreek coach Chris Branson, who lost talented goalkeeper Casey Cram to the California Development Academy following a recent ultimatum by the U.S. Soccer Federation, said his team is confident and ready for a strong finish.

“Right before league started, we weren’t scoring goals and had some lineup changes, but right now, it’s all working and I’m not changing anything,” Branson said. “We’ve got a rotation of about 13 or 14 guys, and we’re just going to keep it going.”

The Timberwolves put five shots on frame against Herman in the first half but to no avail. His impact was felt immediately, as he made three diving saves in the fifth minute.

Herman was the anchor with 11 saves, a testament to what Del Oro coach Matt Scammacca said was a team with solid defense but lacking in scoring.

Del Oro (1-4) managed just over five shots in each half but only one on frame well into a late second-half run. The Golden Eagles had three opportunities in the last three minutes.

Two shots were deflected in front of Woodcreek keeper Mitchell Brill in the 78th. A throw in the 80th near the goalie box and a free kick about 40 yards out in the 81st were Del Oro’s last chances.

“Playoffs are still up for grabs,” Scammacca said. “We just have to get on a little run here.”

SFL: Second-half preview

The top two spots likely belong to Granite Bay and Woodcreek, but the outright title is undecided. Each team has 12 goals in five SFL games. The other four teams have combined to score 15 goals.

The Timberwolves forced Granite Bay into a 1-1 tie on Sept. 28. Woodcreek will be host to Granite Bay at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Granite Bay: The Grizzlies (13-3-3, 4-0-1 SFL) lost to No. 4 Marquette University of Milwaukee 2-1 on Friday. Granite Bay began the season No. 9 in the country but since has dropped out of the Top 25. The Grizzlies play at Nevada Union today before facing Woodcreek on Friday.

“Woodcreek could win league,” Granite Bay coach Steve Fischer said. “It’s going to probably depend on that game … when we go over to their place. I knew that stupid penalty kick with four minutes to go was going to hurt us in our last game against them. You can never have a day off in the SFL.”

Sophomore Tommy Thompson leads the SFL with 13 goals.

Woodcreek: The Timberwolves (6-5-4, 4-0-1) play at Roseville today before Friday’s match against Granite Bay.

“Our chances are pretty good (at winning the SFL),” Branson said. “We’re sitting kind of nice going into the second half. If we can play .500, which hopefully we do better than that, it puts us in the playoffs; a place where Woodcreek hasn’t been in years.”

Woodcreek has had a losing record for the past seven years and hasn’t made the playoffs in about 10.

Nine players have scored a goal for the balanced Timberwolves, led by Cody Meza with seven, and seven players have scored at least three.

Nevada Union: The Miners (8-2-2, 3-2) have been all over the board, edging Roseville and Rocklin 2-1, blowing out Del Oro 4-0 but being drubbed by Woodcreek 4-0 and Granite Bay 3-0. Adam Harris is second in the league with 12 goals.

Roseville: The Tigers (3-8-3, 1-4) have lost three in a row since beating Rocklin 2-0 on Sept. 28, all by one goal — back-to-back 2-1 losses to Nevada Union and Granite Bay and 1-0 to Del Oro.

Rocklin: The Thunder (5-9-2, 1-4) lost to visiting Nevada Union 2-1 on Friday on goals late in the first half and early in the second. Rocklin sophomore Alex Walsh scored in the 76th minute. It was the Thunder’s second goal in SFL play.

Coach Grant DePue began the season with 19 players but is down to 12 after junior Steven Ford injured an ankle in the 15th minute against Nevada Union. DePue has lost at least one player in all but one league game, a 4-0 loss to Granite Bay on Oct. 5.

“We’re beat up, we’re banged up, and we’re a depleted squad who’s only been practicing 12 guys,” DePue said. “Our goal is to get healthy and score more goals than the other teams.”

Del Oro: The Golden Eagles (2-8-2, 1-4) have scored one goal halfway through league, but it was a decisive one against Roseville. Del Oro has been shut out by a margin of 8-0 in its four losses. Del Oro will have to contend with Nevada Union and Rocklin for the third playoff berth.