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April 8, 2011 > Fremont Illusion reaches semifinals

Fremont Illusion reaches semifinals

Submitted by Mike de Landa
Photo by Jim Malone

Fremont Illusion, an under-16 girls DIV travel soccer team, finished the 2010-11 season with a successful showing in the California Youth Soccer Association Founders Cup. Fremont was able to make it to the semifinal round of the tournament, which featured many of the top teams from across Northern California.

Illusion, coming off a second-place finish and a regular season record of 10-2 were placed in a bracket alongside teams from Elk Grove and Ukiah Valley.

On Saturday morning, March 5, the Illusion were matched up against Elk Grove, in what turned out to be the best weather conditions the team would play in the entire tournament. The Illusion were a little rusty, playing their first game since November, but they still created many scoring opportunities - led by forward Aaryonna Lopez - that just missed, hitting the post several times.

Despite the many scoring opportunities, the game ended in a scoreless draw. Illusion defense was anchored by Cindy Tafolla, Veronica Villalovos, Nicole Furukawa and Kailey Richardson, holding Elk Grove to just two shots, keeping the pressure off goalies Samantha Stephens and Allison Huff.

In game two, the Illusion faced off against Ukiah Valley, who they needed to defeat in order to advance to the next round. Again, the Illusion put a lot of pressure on their opponent's defense and finally broke through with a goal in the first half by Hanna Bombino.

Holding a 1-0 lead, the Illusion continued to pressure Ukiah Valley with strong play from Alisa Prathnadi and Abby Harrison. Midway through the second half the Illusion would add to their lead on a corner kick from Bombino that saw the ball roll in front of the net before Samantha Stephens blasted it to the left of the goalie. Illusion continued to attack and was rewarded with eight minutes to go in the game when Amy de Landa scored on a beautiful cross from Claire Normoyle, for a 3-0 lead. This goal would turn out to be the tiebreaker that would give the Illusion first place in their bracket.

Two weeks later the Illusion would play a quarterfinal against Clovis. Illusion would get off to a quick start by taking a 1-0 lead in the first five minutes on a deep shot from Megan Alexander. Offensive pressure was led by Synclaire Hamilton and supported by strong midfield play from Alexander Huff, Tori Nelson and Cali Bachelder, forced Clovis to change goalies.

Early in the second half Bombino would add to the lead by breaking loose from the Clovis defense and ripping a shot high past the goalie. The final Illusion goal would also be the result of Bombino, this time off a PK after being brought down in the penalty box. Richardson, taking her first penalty kck ever, powered home what would eventually be the game deciding goal. Despite being down 3-0, Clovis didn't quit and came back to make the score 3-2 with six minutes to go. Illusion held off several of Clovis' last-minute scoring opportunities to advance to the semifinals against Petaluma.

In the semifinals, the game would be played in very poor weather conditions with the wind playing a major factor. As it turned out, Petaluma won the coin toss and used the wind to their advantage, making it difficult for the Illusion to clear the ball out of their defense zone.

Petaluma put a lot of pressure on the Illusion defense for most of the first half. Despite strong defensive plays from Samantha Malone, Richardson, Prathnadi and Bachelder, and several outstanding saves from Stephens, it wasn't enough to hold off two late first half goals by Petaluma. Illusion tried to counter in the second half but its efforts fell short.

Reaching the semifinals capped an outstanding season for the FC Fremont team which placed first in its bracket; won a quarterfinals game; and completed the season with an overall record of 12-3-1.

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