All-Delta Valley Conference sophomore Lauren Williams scored early in the second half on a 10-yard blast and senior goalie Marcela Young had five impressive second-half saves to lead No. 3 Franklin past No. 2 St. Francis 1-0 in today's Sac-Joaquin Section Division I girls soccer semifinals in East Sacramento.
Franklin will play the winner of tonight's Davis/Oak Ridge game for the championship on Saturday at Cosumnes Oaks High School. The time is still to be determined.
It will mark Franklin's second consecutive appearance in the D-I final.
The Wildcats lost 2-1 to St. Mary's of Stockton last May in the D-I title game played in Stockton, though without Williams or sophomore defender Aleah Kelley. Both were in Germany playing in a club tournament.
The skilled and physical Williams' scored on a ball St. Francis was unable to clear in its goal area after a deflection.
"She hit a rocket," said Franklin coach Eliseo Lopez. "Lauren is very talented, very smart, very key."
Franklin's speedy senior forward Tatyana Garrett, a UC Irvine scholarship signee, misfired on a couple of breakaway attempts. Otherwise St. Francis dominated second half time of possession.
But the Troubadours couldn't slip one past Young, despite a couple of point-blank shots.
"A great player - this is one of the best games she has had," Lopez said. "She was in the right place at the right moment, making some amazing dives, and she stayed really calm."
Franklin's back line of Kelley, Julia Altop, Sophie Spallas and Alex Grant also played well.
The victory marked the second season in a row that the Elk Grove district public school knocked out the parochial power in the semifinals. Last year Franklin (16-3) beat St. Francis (14-2-7) by a 2-1 score.
St. Francis' 12 titles is more than any other section school.
Franklin is trying to become the first area team other than Davis or St. Francis to win a D-I title since Casa Roble in 1997.
Franklin and Davis tied for first place with 9-1 records in the Delta Valley Conference after splitting matches.
The Blue Devils won the coin flip for the top seed. St. Francis, as Delta River League champions, got the No. 2 seed and what section officials hoped might lead to a big Saturday draw should both win out.
Since Casa Roble's victory in 1997, St. Francis has won eight section titles and Davis four. St. Mary's and Beyer of Modesto also each have won titles after the section unitied its playoff format in 2002 (south schools used to play in the winter).
"Those two teams wind up on the opposite side of the brackets for a reason," Lopez said.
But Lopez says Franklin draws pretty well, too. The Wildcats had as many fans lining the sidelines as the Troubadours.
"The support has been great," he said. "They're our 12th player."
Although he starts six sophomores, Lopez has two other players who will join Garrett in playing in the college ranks.
Outside midfielder Lauren Aldana will play for Southern Oregon and forward Kaylah Valdry for Texas Southern.
Franklin defeated No. 14 Lincoln of Stockton 7-2 and No. 6 Vintage of Napa 1-0 and St. Francis topped Napa 4-0 and McClatchy 2-0 en route to the semifinals.