Benefield: Vikings set for battle

Montgomery's Taylor Ziemer takes the ball towards the goal as Petaluma's Hannah Devoe pressures her during the game held at Montgomery High School, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Montgomery’s Taylor Ziemer takes the ball towards the goal as Petaluma’s Hannah Devoe pressures her during the game held at Montgomery High School, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)



It was a tale of two Ziemers Wednesday night in the North Coast Section semifinals.

It was big sister, junior Taylor Ziemer, who buoyed the Montgomery High School girls soccer team Wednesday night against Petaluma, but it was freshman Tera Ziemer who delivered the dagger to the Trojans, netting a nifty goal with just 11 minutes remaining in the contest to make it 2-1 and send Montgomery to the NCS finals for the fourth year in a row.

Taylor Ziemer, the most dominant player in the Empire, came into the game leading both the NBL and the SCL in goals with 29 on the season. Need more? The junior has served up 15 assists.

That power and skill was on display in the first half when everything the Vikings put together began with No. 13 in the middle. But it wasn’t enough.

With a socked-in defense that double- and triple-teamed the junior, and standout games for Petaluma defender Cassie Baddeley and goalkeeper Annie Madden, the stage was set for another Ziemer to step into the spotlight.

Freshman Tera Ziemer shined bright under the dreary skies that turned to rain with 10 minutes left in the contest.

Dashing up and down the left flank, Tera Ziemer connected with her sister up front, battled Trojan defenders and made key stops that were then turned around into counterattacks for the Vikings.

With 11 minutes left in regulation and the scored tied 1-1, Viking Eden Brooker sent a through ball down the left side to a sprinting Tera Ziemer, who took the pass on the run and used her left foot to send the ball across the front of the goal and into the netting on the far side.

“We kept fighting and we broke through,” Tera Ziemer said. “I really wanted this, just for the seniors. It’s their year.”

Ever the competitor, Taylor Ziemer called her sister’s goal “awesome” but was quick to explain that the Vikings need to pick up their game for the championship game Saturday night against arch-rival Maria Carrillo.

“It wasn’t our best,” she said. “We didn’t play as well as we could.”

Coach Pat McDonald agreed.

“We didn’t play well at all,” he said. “Petaluma played very well and we played very average.”

It will have to change before Saturday if the Vikings want to turn the tide of recent history.

While Montgomery had its hands full with the Trojans, Maria Carrillo, the squad that won another NBL league title with relative ease, dispatched Casa Grande 7-0 Wednesday night to set up a NCS title matchup that is now old hat for Sonoma County soccer watchers.

Montgomery has fallen to Maria Carrillo in the NCS finals three years in a row. Looking at NCS finals going back to 2002, Montgomery has won the title four times — the same as Maria Carrillo — but come in second an astounding seven times, playing bridesmaid to their crosstown rivals in four of those contests.

McDonald acknowledged that the Vikings will have to bring more than they showed on the field Wednesday night if they want wrest the local soccer crown from Carrillo’s iron grip.

“They are favored to win and they should be,” he said of the Pumas.

The Vikings were outclassed in the first meeting between the rivals this season, losing 4-0. But the second meeting was something altogether different. Yes, the Vikings lost 2-0 because of two brilliant goals by junior Maddy Gonzalez, but they were not dramatically outplayed. They had chances, largely on the sheer will of Taylor Ziemer.

It’s that kind of gutsy performance that the elder Ziemer will have to summon if the Vikings are to make a go of it Saturday.

And Taylor Ziemer, who gets chances largely of her own creation, might have to use Wednesday night’s experience of having two and three players draped all over her as practice for what Maria Carrillo will bring.

So far this season, the dominating goal scorer has been shut out against the Pumas. But if the Vikings are to win, Taylor Ziemer has got to find the back of the net.

She was left exasperated after the two teams met last month — frustrated that she couldn’t will one in. She’ll have 80 minutes on Saturday to make that happen or a long winter to wipe it from her mind.