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Soccer Bears start playoffs vs. Livingston

Summerville High School goes for a third straight Sac-Joaquin Section girls' soccer championship beginning tomorrow in a Division IV first-round game against Livingston.

Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. at Thorsted Field in Tuolumne between the Bears, champions of the Mother Lode League, and the Wolves, third-place finishers in the Trans-Valley League.

The winner advances to Thursday's semifinals against either Golden Empire League runner-up Capital Christian or TVL runner-up Hughson, who play tomorrow in Sacramento.

In the top half of the eight-team bracket, MLL No. 3 Bret Harte visits GEL champion Marysville and MLL No. 2 Linden visits TVL champion Hilmar. The winners play Thursday and the championship game is Saturday at 1 p.m. at American River College in Sacramento.

Summerville beat Hilmar 2-1 in last year's title game at American River and beat MLL rival Amador 1-0 in the 2001 final at Lincoln High in Stockton. Both the Bears' titles were won in Division III. They're in Division IV now with the expansion of the playoffs to a full five divisions, like in most other sports, this year.

On the field, Summerville is unbeaten this season — including a 5-2 victory over Livingston on March 12 in Livingston. However, the Bears carry a record of 21-1-2 (12-1-2 in the MLL) into the playoffs because they had to forfeit a makeup game to Linden last week.

The game was rained out on its original date, April 24, and was rescheduled for last Thursday. Summerville chose not to play because of the death of a former student, and Linden was awarded a forfeit because the outcome had a bearing on playoff seeding. For Linden, it made the difference in finishing second rather than third in the MLL.

Linden endured the death of a student last week, too, and originally forfeited a game to Bret Harte last Tuesday. The forfeit was later withdrawn and the game was played Thursday, with Bret Harte winning 3-1. Still, Linden finished second at 11-4 (33 points) and Bret Harte third at 10-3-2 (32). Summerville had 37 points (three per victory, one per tie) to win its third straight MLL title.

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