The Folsom Lake Falcons and Santa Rosa Bear Cubs met for the sixth time in two years on Saturday afternoon - with a berth in the State Final Four at stake – at Falcon Stadium. Of the previous five meetings, four ended in a tie, with Santa Rosa winning once, 1-0, back in September 2016. The two teams played 120 minutes of scoreless soccer in last year's 3rd round of the playoffs, with the Falcons advancing to the Final Four by virtue of a Penalty Kick Shootout. But this time, there would be no overtime or tie, although it looked like it might happen again after the first 45 minutes ended with the teams knotted at 0-0. But five minutes into the second half, Falcon sophomore Britney Johnson collected a deflected ball and sent it toward the goal from 35 yards out. The ball sailed over the Bear Cub goalkeeper into the net, setting off a Falcon celebration. With 40 minutes of play still remaining, they could not afford to relax, but it was apparent a huge weight had been lifted off their shoulders. While the Bear Cubs continued to press for an equalizer, the Falcons' defense held strong. Goalkeeper Valerie Ogorodnikov was stellar, keeping several Santa Rosa shots out of the net with diving saves and leaping punches. The Falcons sealed the victory with just over ten minutes to play when Jackie Kittredge sent a free kick soaring toward the goal from 40 yards out. The shot was a little high and struck the crossbar just above the goalkeeper's hand, then bounced to where an opportunistic Tiara Webb was waiting to tap it in for a 2-0 Falcon lead. The final 10 minutes seemed like an eternity, but when the final whistle blew, a massive on-field celebration ensued. After six tries, the Falcons had finally beaten the Bear Cubs.
With the victory, the Falcons (21-1-2) head to the CCCAA State Championship Final Four at American River College, where they'll face the number one team in California, undefeated Santa Barbara City College (20-0-1) on Friday night at 7:00 pm. A victory on Friday would advance the team to Sunday's 3:00 pm championship match against the winner of the other semifinal between Fresno City and Santiago Canyon.