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Despite off-field trauma, Placer boys soccer team keeps winning

Hillmen have recorded five straight shutouts
By: Matthew Kimel / Auburn Journal
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Perhaps it was the jerseys.


After being held scoreless in the first half wearing their home-team white soccer uniforms, the Hillmen switched to their green soccer shirts after the break and earned a 1-0 victory over Pioneer Valley League foe Center on Wednesday at Railhead Park.

Though Placer (7-3-1, 2-0 PVL) outshot the Cougars 15-3 thanks to a second-half push, the lone goal of the contest came on a Brennan Entz penalty kick in the 44th minute.


“It was really tough to see between the light blue and white (jerseys),” Entz said of the opening 40 minutes. “It helped with our passing (changing jerseys).”


Entz’s goal was set up when he drew a penalty on a Noah Daly scoring opportunity.

 Entz boomed the ball in to the top right corner of the goal, where Center’s keeper had no chance to make a play.


“I typically go there,” Entz said.


With the win over Center (2-8-2, 1-1), Placer has now recorded five straight shutouts — an impressive feat considering the team has dealt with off-field trauma.


The team has been playing without Andrew Carducci, who suffered head injuries in a recent vehicle rollover on Interstate 80. Carducci was discharged from Sutter Roseville Medical Center on Monday and relocated to a rehab center.


“He’s a very good player. We miss him a lot,” Entz said. “I hope he returns to watch on the sidelines. He’s a good part of the team.”


Of the eight Placer High students involved in the car accident, four were Hillmen soccer players.


Coach Dave Brown said Nikolai Figueroa, Adam Norcott and Gavin Royce are all physically fine, but he thinks “there is still a haze of emotional trauma that should clear over time.”


Brown and co-head coach Cameron Entz credited backs Norcott and Collin Barnum for contributing to Wednesday’s shutout.


Brown said he’s proud of the way his team has remained focused considering the circumstances.


“Playing soccer is a good distraction for them,” he added.


Brown has been particularly pleased with Figueroa’s play as of late.


“Even at 70 percent he’s better than most of the kids on the field,” the coach said.


Like Entz, Brown is looking forward to Carducci’s presence on the sideline.


“It’s going to be huge,” he said. “We’re hoping he’ll be out of the hospital and be able to be a spectator by the end of the season. It will be inspirational.”


Carducci isn’t currently allowed to have visitors, but the Bear River boys soccer team recently gave the Hillmen a get well cookie basket. Brown said there were plenty of treats to go around for the team and to be delivered to Carducci.


“It was really unusual and very thoughtful,” he said. “We’re very appreciate of it.”


The Hillmen will go for their sixth straight shutout Monday when they travel to Colfax for a PVL game that has been moved to 7 p.m. to be played under the lights on the football field.


Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel