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Placer seniors don’t want soccer season to end

Lady Hillmen host Dixon in playoff opener
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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Placer’s seniors want to win a playoff soccer game before they graduate.

The Pioneer Valley League co-champions will get the opportunity to do so Thursday night.

Second-seeded Placer hosts No. 7 Dixon at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. IV tournament at LeFebvre Stadium.

“We made it my sophomore year (to the playoffs) and lost first round,” said senior forward Sabrina Viscuso, who has scored a team-high 15 goals this season. “Hopefully we win in the first round this time.”

No. 7 Dixon heads to Auburn with a 12-9-1 record overall, coming off a 6-3-1 third-place finish in the Golden Empire League.

Placer (10-9-1, 7-2-1) has allowed just 16 goals in its last 15 games and is 7-2-1 in its last 10 outings on the pitch.

“We’ve been playing really well together and we’ve been jelling and talking together a lot towards the end of the season,” said goalkeeper Jenelle Pickard, who added her defense in front of her continues to improve. “We trust each other.”

The Lady Hillmen are 5-2-1 at home, which could be an advantage against Dixon, which is 5-5-1 on the road.

Placer coach Steve Cook has watched the Rams play on tape, but isn’t showing his players any of the game footage.

“They’re a good solid team,” Cook said. “They’re well-coached. They run the offside trap. … They have an aggressive keeper. They’re a decent opponent. We have great respect for Dixon.”

Placer had the weekend off after clinching a share of the league title in a 1-1 tie on May 2 against Lincoln. The Lady Hillmen had two tough practices Monday and Tuesday before going over details Wednesday at Railhead Park.

“I’m excited,” said senior midfielder Olivia Holmes. “We’re ready. We’ve been practicing really hard all week. We all want to win since we’re playing in our stadium. We all want to go on to the second round.”

The Lady Hillmen head into the playoffs healthy — for the most part.

Cook said the team is dealing with several ailments, including a few players who will have their ankles taped up before the game.

Brittany Bartle, one of Placer’s top defenders, will be a game-time decision, Cook said. Bartle has been battling an illness all week and isn’t likely to start Thursday.

Midfielder/forward Macaylea Mitchell missed practice Wednesday, as she’s doing double duty this spring. Mitchell is also on the Placer track and field team, which was competing in the PVL championships at the same time as soccer practice.

“She’s a great kid, superior athlete,” Cook said. “We share her with track. She’s that special of a player.”

While Placer’s seniors aren’t trying to look ahead, they sure would like to win more than just one playoff game.

“Our main goal is to win it all but we’ve got to take every baby step one at a time,” said senior captain Alex Lee. “We can’t just get our heads up too high.”

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