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Del Oro headed to the top

Experienced Eagles take aim at playoffs under new coach
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS — First-year head coach Rory Somers doesn’t have lofty expectations for his Del Oro High girls soccer team. The Golden Eagles created those on their own. “For us seniors, it is very important to make the playoffs this year,” said co-captain Shelby Cargile, Del Oro’s anchor on defense. “I think we’re stressing it so much more this season because we really do have the mentality to take it that far.” Cargile, who will play at Cal State Stanislaus next year, hasn’t experienced the playoffs in four years as a varsity starter. The Eagles have never won a Sac-Joaquin Section title. After a 4-5-7 campaign during which Del Oro scored only 12 goals all of last spring, the Eagles have already surpassed those totals for wins and goals in only 10 games this season. “I basically just wanted to have a better season than last year,” said Somers, a standout on the soccer pitch at Del Oro during the mid 90s who teaches art at the high school today. “Of course the goal is always to win a championship and make the playoffs, but the girls definitely have high expectations this year.” Somers assisted Dave Shiro with Del Oro boys soccer the last two seasons and has had the help of assistant coach Sarah Cortez, who coached the JV girls last year, to get him up to speed with the program. “He’s been making sure that we can connect as a team and reminding us how much ability we really have,” Cargile said of Somers. “It’s been very positive.” The Eagles graduated only two seniors and return six, including forwards Ella Owsley and Kyleah Rozario, defenders Taylor Sims and Kayla Odegard and goalkeeper Katie Pulliam. Cargile plays outside and Odegard plays inside Del Oro’s flat back four defense. “It’s nice to have seasoned players on the inside and the outside,” Somers said. The midfield has featured several different platoons through the first half of the Sierra Foothill League. Sophomore Becky Duncan has been stellar and junior co-captain Teagan Seman returns as a force at attacking midfielder. Forward Miranda Bailey is one of two freshmen on the team alongside Lauren Gollnick. “We’re passing the ball well and finishing opportunities,” Bailey said. “We just want to play every game to the best of our ability.” Sophomore Emma Freeman is the Eagles’ leading goal scorer on a team that has cured its inability to find the back of the net. “We had a lot of freshmen playing on offense last season,” Cargile said. “After they got a year of it under their belts, it definitely has helped. We’ve really grown offensively.” The Eagles have allowed only 13 goals in 16 games last season, and Pulliam, a standout on the basketball court, is back to defend the net again. Junior Bri Holt has shown promise in splitting time with Pulliam. “We’re pretty comfortable with either one in the goal,” Somers said. Del Oro improved to 5-4-1 overall and 2-2-1 in the SFL with a 2-0 win over Oakmont Thursday. “We’ve outplayed a few of the teams and just didn’t have the right outcome, but because of those games we have more drive to come out on top,” Cargile said. The Eagles wrap up the first half of league play at Granite Bay Tuesday. Three SFL teams will receive playoff berths rather than only two this season. “It’s a tough league,” Somers said. “I think, if anything, it’s gotten tougher since I played. There are never easy games. I feel like we have an extremely strong team, a lot stronger than what our record shows. I think we move the ball so far better than any team we’ve played. We’ll see what happens in the second half. I think a lot of those games that we tied or lost could have gone as wins for us.”