It's impressive when a goalkeeper can stop one penalty kick in a match, but two? Against the likes of the San Ramon Valley High girls squad?

It's practically netminder nirvana.

California senior goalkeeper Lauren Holden, an Oregon commit, accomplished the improbable feat in the Grizzlies' 1-0 loss against the unbeaten Wolves on Jan. 22 in East Bay Athletic League girls soccer. The same night, Livermore keeper Savannah Winters stopped a PK in the Cowboys' 2-0 loss against Monte Vista.

So Holden and Winters had mixed emotions after their PK piece de resistance.

Like a good poker player, Holden pays close attention to each shooter's movements on a penalty kick before making her move. Against the Wolves, she denied Allie Dutto and Cal-bound Alexa Vandevanter with dives to her right.

"I read it pretty well, I guess," Holden said modestly.

People have come to expect the spectacular save from Holden, even some of the Wolves.

Holden recalled a funny conversation with San Ramon Valley's Morgan Idso after the game.

"She was, like, 'I just won 20 bucks because I guessed you'd save it,'" Holden said with a laugh, referencing her stop on Vandevanter.

Idso, Vandevanter and Holden are teammates on the under-18 Mustang SC team, which competes in the Elite Clubs National League.

What is Holden's mindset when a striker stands 12 paces away preparing for a free direct shot?

"Well, I freak out," Holden said. "And then I compose myself and I try to look into the kicker's eyes to see if they're going to give me anything. Other than that, I try not to guess. I try to read it, but if it comes down to guessing, I do."


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In an injury-plagued season, the Grizzlies were thrilled to get standout senior captain Rachel Feldman back recently, but promptly lost Chelsea Arnold to an injury. It's been that kind of season for California, who entered this week 6-6-5 overall and 2-4-4 in the EBAL.

Feldman, another under-18 Mustang ECNL player who has committed to Navy, scored in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Livermore on Jan. 24.

"She is our playmaker, so she does everything she can," Holden said of Feldman. "She scored against Livermore. Hopefully we can keep scoring now."

Of going to Oregon, Holden said it's "been my dream school since I've been in middle school. When I got the opportunity to talk to them, I took it."

WILD SOCCER RACE: As the EBAL girls soccer season heads down the home stretch, every team entered the week with a mathematical chance to earn a North Coast Section Division I berth. They'll need to finish either .500 in league or overall against Division I opponents. San Ramon Valley is sailing toward a repeat EBAL title and an automatic berth with a seven-point cushion over surging Monte Vista to start the week. But after the Wolves, it gets a little dicey. As of Monday, only eight points separated the next six teams: Monte Vista (17 points), Amador Valley (16), Granada (15), Foothill (12), California (10), and Livermore (9).

polo honors, ALOHA STYLE: Three San Ramon Valley boys water polo players were selected to California-Hawaii All-American teams. Tyler Martin, the MVP of the EBAL in the fall and a first-team all-Bay Area News Group East Bay selection, made the third team. Conor Neumann made the seventh team, and Nick Pasichuke made honorable mention.

FOOTHILL mat-tastic: The Foothill wrestling team earned a big 41-30 victory over host Livermore in an EBAL showdown on Jan. 22. Then the Falcons routed a small Monte Vista team 63-15 to improve to 4-0 in league. Competing in packed Cowboys gym, the Falcons got thilling wins by pin from junior Dominik Sutalo, freshman Dustin Dukleth and sophomore Michael Belichak. Against the Mustangs, Foothill's Kohlten Clark rallied for a win in overtime at 223 pounds.

Contact Matt Schwab at mschwab@bayareanewsgroup.com or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/schwab_matt.