Franklin's girls advance to D-I soccer section title game

Published: Friday, May. 18, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7C
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 20, 2012 - 1:24 pm

Thursday was a busy day for Franklin High School senior Crystal Vega.

There was the 6 p.m. graduation at Power Balance Pavilion, then the post-grad party afterward at an area bowling alley.

But there was another piece of business to take care of earlier in the day – helping her Franklin girls soccer team achieve history.

The Wildcats defeated Turlock 1-0 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals to advance to their first championship final.

Franklin (18-4-2), will play St. Mary's on Saturday at Cosumnes Oaks or Lincoln of Stockton. The Rams beat Folsom 2-1 in overtime.

Vega is the captain and one of only two seniors on a team that has grown up fast.

Franklin beat and tied perennial power and defending D-I champion Davis to win the Delta Valley Conference. In the playoffs, Franklin beat another perennial power, St. Francis, 2-1 and edged Vintage of Napa 5-4 on penalty kicks in Tuesday's quarterfinals.

Thursday's game, which started at 1 p.m. to accommodate the graduations of Vega and Ashley Matarelli, wasn't as close as the score indicated.

Although junior Tatyana Garrett scored the game's only goal midway through the first half, the Wildcats dominated play against Turlock (4-4-5) with at least a half-dozen near misses on goal.

"That was a little frustrating," said Vega, who missed several close shots, including a blast that bounced off the far post. "But we played well. This was fun to be able to make a little bit of history for girls soccer at our school."

Franklin coach Eliseo Lopez enjoys watching his team play.

"I didn't think they were going to be this good because we are so young," said Lopez, in his eighth season as coach. "But they have chemistry and they are hungry."

They also have depth.

Lopez's junior varsity team went undefeated even though he elevated freshman sensations Lauren Williams and Kyra Taylor to the varsity seven matches into the season.

Both made all-Delta Valley Conference, and Williams leads the team in scoring with 23 goals, although the forward wasn't in the lineup Thursday. She was participating in a 5 vs. 5 international tournament in Munich, Germany. But she's expected to fly back to Sacramento early Saturday morning.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll have her for the championship," Lopez said. "But either way, I think the girls are ready to show their talent."

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