Santa Rosa Junior College’s women’s soccer team took an early lead and never looked back in their 5-1 win against Modesto College on Oct. 22 at Sunrise Park in Rohnert Park.
Clad in pink jerseys in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Bear Cubs began a strong offensive showing with an immediate goal from freshman midfielder Abril Bautista Vizzuett to make the score 1-0.
Despite the quick goal, the game was an intense back-and-forth battle and there was not another goal until midway through the first half. Freshman Bear Cubs midfielder Katherine Monroy found an opening and scored with a long shot over Modesto goalkeeper Madison Dong to go up 2-0 on Modesto. Dong’s aggressive playstyle was a big factor throughout the game and allowed her to stop many shots on goal, including several 1v1 breakaways.
“We talked during halftime how [Dong] is very aggressive off her line,” Santa Rosa coach Crystal Chaidez said.
“If she comes off her line early and it’s a 1v1, you try and take her on. That’s kind of what [Monroy] did; she kind of chipped her instead, and that was a great decision,” she said. “[Dong] is very brave. She obviously had to step up for her team and she understands that role.”
Freshman Santa Rosa forward Grace Messenger and led several breakaways during the game, including two shots that Dong had to slide in to stop.
“In a few of my 1v1s with [Dong], she was able to get toe-pokes on the ball, which is challenging,” Messenger said. “It’s hard to lose those, but props to her. She did really well.”
Not long after Monroy’s goal, Messenger was able to break away and score the third for the team, shooting right past Dong to make it 3-0.
“As an individual I think I played pretty well, but there’s always room for improvement,” Messenger said. “I think finishing the chances that I had would’ve been obviously a lot better, but at the end of the day we got the win.”
Some Santa Rosa players were frustrated by the referees’ inconsistent calls, but the team stayed focused regardless.
The second half started similarly to the first, with freshman Santa Rosa midfielder Abria Brooker scoring the 4-0 goal less than a minute in on another long shot over the goalkeeper.
Brooker led the offensive charge through the first part of the second half. The Bear Cubs kept offensive pressure and continued to work around the goaltender. Monroy got a breakaway chance after the ball ricocheted off a Modesto defender and perfectly placed the fifth and final goal for the Bear Cubs to make the score 5-0.
“[Dong] moved around in her box very well so we had to make sure to chip it or beat her on the outside, which is something I took into consideration,” Monroy said.
During the last part of the second half, the ball stayed in the Bear Cubs’ defensive half of the field more, during which Modesto managed to score a goal from a corner kick and make the score 5-1. The team stayed on their toes and finished strong.
With the victory, the Bear Cubs improved their record in conference play to three wins and three losses.
Before conference games started, Chaidez said that she wanted the team to continue to work on their defensive mentality, which shined through today.
“Our transition offensively to defensively is something we’ve been talking about, and getting our forwards to help defensively and not just rely on our midfielders,” Chaidez said. “Our forwards did a lot of work today. I made a lot of subs because they were covering more distance than they normally would.”
The Bear Cubs have now won two games in a row and are looking to keep this momentum for the remaining four conference games.
“I think we played really well [today],” Monroy said. “We started off the season a little rough and I think now we have more confidence in each other and we’re playing very well.”
The team’s next game is Tuesday at the Petaluma Community Sports field, where the team has not yet won a game and are looking to break what Chaidez calls the “curse.”
“It’s such a different environment out there, it’s a really open space out in the middle of nowhere by the airport and the golf course, so there’s a lot of distractions,” Chaidez said. “It’s more of something mentality-wise, where we need to make sure regardless of where we’re playing, we’re getting stuff done on the field.”
Messenger still feels optimistic about playing on the Petaluma field.
“It is just a field at the end of the day, so we shouldn’t let it get into our heads, but I think the idea around it sometimes does,” she said. “We have to go out there with a good mentality and stay strong and try to play soccer and not think about the outside interferences.”