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No. 2 Rangers eliminated in Central Section Division II semifinals

12:00 AM, Feb. 19, 2013 EST

Redwood's Alyssa Pratt (18) attempts to take a shot on goal as she gets her jersey pulled by a Garces defender during a Division II girls semifinal on Tuesday at the Giant Chevrolet-Cadillac Mineral King Bowl. / Ken Weisenberger

The rain poured and poured onto the Mineral King Bowl pitch for 80 minutes, forcing No. 2 Redwood and No. 3 Garces to play in a pit of mud with the right to play in the Central Section Division II girls soccer championship on the line.

And as soon as the referee blew the final whistle, the rain came to a sudden halt and so did the Rangers' season.

Garces scored in the 34th minute and held on to beat Redwood 1-0 on Tuesday night in Visalia.

The Rams will host No. 5 Sanger in the Division II championship game on Friday. Sanger defeated No. 9 Tulare Western 2-1 in the other semifinal.

"All year long, our thing had been possession in the middle of the field, but today the ball wouldn't roll. That takes a lot out of you," Redwood coach Jason Vieira said. "But Garces played in the rain too. It isn't an excuse. You wish all games were played in pristine conditions, but sometimes it is just the luck of the draw."

The field conditions at the Mineral King Bowl were far from ideal. Passes that rolled on the ground would get slowed down and even come to a complete stop in the puddles that covered the pitch.

Neither team could get any sort of rhythm on offense, but it took just one attack for Garces to gain the advantage.

The Rams scored on a set piece in the 34th minute on a pass that sailed through the air in front of the goal and was kicked into the back on the net.

"They had one opportunity and they capitalized on it," Vieira said. "I give them a lot of credit. They left no doubt the ball was going in."

The Rangers tried relentlessly to score the equalizer in the second half. They came close on a couple of occasions, but couldn't capitalize.

"Our midfield with Stephanie Funk, Kindal Mendes and Brittany Ontiveros have been fantastic all season," Vieira said. "Today we just couldn't get it going. The 1-2 wasn't there because the ball wouldn't roll."

For six seniors, their soccer careers at Redwood came to a disappointing end.

Vieira said he understands that the loss hurt, but they should be proud of what they accomplished.

They finished this season with an overall 21-5-1 record and captured the West Yosemite League championship.

"There is a legacy that we try to keep here," Vieira said. "The seniors would have liked a Valley title, but they have gone 22-2 in the West Yosemite League while I've been here and the girls that were here since they were freshman won three out of four league titles. I told them it hurts tonight and there's nothing a coach can say to make them feel better, but at some point, they'll sit down and think, 'man, we did a lot of good things.' They represented the school with class and they did it the right way. They played Ranger soccer throughout."




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