THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Speedy and skilled, the Santa Rosa Junior College women rolled to another win Tuesday as the Bear Cubs improve in a bid to repeat as state champions.
A pair of early second-half goals put away the 4-0 victory over Sacramento City College. Such was Santa Rosa’s control of the contest that the Bear Cubs yielded only one shot on goal and possessed the ball for much of the afternoon.
Santa Rosa, ranked second in Northern California and seventh in the state, needs to be at its best heading into Friday’s home match with Sierra College. First place in the rugged Big Eight Conference is on the line.
“It’s a huge game. Everyone is coming at us hard. We’re ready,” said Kareli Rodriguez, the former Montgomery high player who scored a goal Tuesday and assisted on another.
Playing fast, unselfish soccer with a sturdy defense that helps generate scoring chances, Santa Rosa continues improving each week.
The Bear Cubs survived a scare in coming back against Modesto on Friday, winning on a late goal.
The game was a reminder how challenging play is in the Big Eight Conference and the focus needed to prevail in the playoffs.
“The Big Eight Conference is really, really strong. It gets teams ready for the playoffs,” said Sacramento City coach Jang Ha-Oh. “Santa Rosa is good. They’re really fast and very skilled.”
Santa Rosa’s quick-strike capability was evident on the game’s first score.
Bear Cubs backs switched the ball across the field and Caina Field, from Analy, took it on the run up the right side.
She served a deep ball to the middle for Rodriguez, who sped past defenders and sent a shot across the goal box where Careena Capra-Martin, from Rancho Cotate, struck a one-timer for the goal.
Just six minutes later Meilee Giron, from Maria Carrillo, ran on a ball from Allison Rash, out of Santa Rosa High, worked through traffic and booted in the goal.
Both scoring runs began with backs and midfielders cutting off Sacramento City clearing attempts and quickly turning the play back toward the Panthers goal.
“We’re all working hard. We’re passing the ball really well,” Rodriguez said.
Outside backs Field and Laura Fenton, from Ursuline, often generate runs down the sidelines. They spread defenses and cross balls to set up scoring chances.
Forwards Rodriguez and Holle Depina, from St. Helena, with midfielder Sal Gebre, possess well and find shots or open teammates.
The game’s third goal resulted from Rodriguez beating defenders to a loose ball, spinning left and getting past a defender to create an open shot.
Three minutes later Depina controlled a bouncing ball, took off right, found an opening and booted in the game’s final score.
Fitness and outworking opponents have been a focus for Santa Rosa.
The Bear Cubs push in practice to have stronger legs in games.
“We want to hopefully win conference, get to the playoffs and get to state again,”” Fenton said. “We’re determined.”