It has been a pretty eventful playoff for Rio Americano High School girls soccer coach Jennifer Smiley.
On Saturday, she coached the Raiders to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship with a 3-0 win over Capital Athletic League rival Antelope. It was the Raiders' fourth section title in six years and second in a row.
So Smiley was plenty happy for her girls, who overcame several early-season injuries and a brief bump in league play en route to their sixth consecutive league title. The Raiders lost to El Camino 2-1, the Raiders' first loss in two seasons. "That loss humbled us," Smiley said. "We came back stronger, and this team peaked at the right time."
The Raiders (14-1-4) won their last eight matches. They dominated Antelope (19-4-3) in the title game as Lizzie Moulton, Alexa Heinzer and Paige Borgogno scored goals and Elizabeth Hutchinson dominated the midfield.
Smiley also gave her newest arrival an assist for good timing. Smiley's first child, Katelyn, was born May 5.
"Her due date was not until (today), but she came 15 days early," said Smiley, a teacher at Barrett Middle School in Carmichael who recently received a layoff notice. "She knew exactly when she wanted to come right after league and before playoffs."
Smiley is a former soccer standout for the Raiders and keeps in tip-top shape, so her players had fun with her pregnancy.
"We wouldn't make fun of her, but we'd tease her about being fat, then she'd still out-juggle us in practice," said senior co-captain Lauren Elledge. "She's our baby Raider. It's been so much fun."
Fun describes Smiley's coaching philosophy. With most of Rio Americano's players juggling demanding club commitments and challenging academics, she sees high school play as something precious. "As a former player, I know how important it is to have fun," she said. "We work hard and play hard, but ultimately we come out to have fun."
St. Mary's 2, Franklin 1 at Lincoln in Stockton Lauren Aldana's second-half goal wasn't enough as the Wildcats' (17-5-2) bid for a first section title fell short against the nationally ranked Rams (30-1).
Woodcreek 4, Del Oro 0 at Cosumnes Oaks Rachel Dortch scored two goals and assisted on a third as the Timberwolves (13-2-7) handed the Golden Eagles (9-1-7) their first loss in an all-Sierra Foothill League final.
Vista del Lago 4, Cosumnes Oaks 2 (OT) at Cosumnes Oaks Dali Alarian and MacKenzie Mercier scored overtime goals as the Eagles (15-2-2) ruined the Wolfpack's (12-5-3) bid to win their first girls section soccer title on their home field.
West Campus 3, Dixon 0 at Cosumnes Oaks Jena Mamola had two goals as the Warriors (20-6-1) beat the Rams (8-7-3) for their third consecutive section title.
Bradshaw Christian 4, Forest Lake Christian 0 at Cosumnes Oaks Trisha Simmons had two goals as the Pride (15-8-2) topped the Falcons (13-8-1) for its fourth consecutive section title.