– All season, the Folsom Lake College women’s soccer team has had to scratch and claw for respect.

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And when the chips have been down, goalkeeper Reese Clark has been there to keep the Falcons moving forward.

Sunday afternoon, she did more than that, stopping two penalties – one in regulation and one in the shootout – to help the Falcons win the 3C2A Women’s Soccer Championship, outlasting Cypress College. The Falcons won in penalties, 5-4, after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes of play.

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But it wasn’t easy. After taking a 1-0 lead on a 16th-minute penalty kick from Tea Reyes, the Falcons were forced to hold off a hard-charging attack from the Chargers, who ended the game outshooting the Falcons 32-8, including 12-0 in extra time.

“Nothing has come easy for this team throughout the whole year,” Folsom Lake coach Danny Ribaudo said. “We have been driven by the idea of fail first. Learn from the experiences and mistakes, maybe, and take that information and go to the next moment. This team is used to being resilient through tough times. That whole situation they have experienced before, and they were able to weather the storm and find a way to win.”

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The Chargers had tied the game in the 52nd minute off a corner kick delivered by Jasmin Martinez and driven home off the head of Amber Mielke, whose shot hit the post, bounced back and into the net off the back of a prone Clark.

Cypress had the chance to take the lead in the 78th minute when the Falcons were whistled for a penalty. Martinez’s shot went to Clark’s left but was turned aside by the goalkeeper making one of her 12 saves.

The teams went to penalties and each team made their first four, though Clark got her fingertips on the fourth shot from Jennifer Arteaga which gave her confidence for the final shot, taken by Cypress’ Briaana Cortes. Cortes dove to her left, blocking the shot which trickled out of harm’s way.

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“It sucks being a keeper in PK’s,” Clark said. “You have to change your mindset fully. You have to think they’re supposed to score, so keep it moving. So I just try to forget and move on every time. And the last one, I got my fingertips on the fourth one, so that last one I was just like, ‘It’s mine.’ “

The victory clinched the first-ever championship for Folsom Lake in any sport.

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“It’s amazing,” she said. “This team, we’ve gone through so much this year. And it’s so great to pull through for our school. We love our school.”

Bill Norris supplied this content/ photo by Daryl Peterson