A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC women’s soccer team prepares for conference playoffs Friday, reflects on their successful season

The+SRJC+womens+soccer+team+huddles+together+for+a+cheer+at+the+end+of+its+Thursday+practice.+Head+Coach+Crystal+Chaidez+addressed+the+team+and+gave+advice+to+help+them+prepare+for+the+upcoming+playoff+match+against+Diablo+Valley+College+Nov.+5.
Garrett Ashton
The SRJC women’s soccer team huddles together for a cheer at the end of its Thursday practice. Head Coach Crystal Chaidez addressed the team and gave advice to help them prepare for the upcoming playoff match against Diablo Valley College Nov. 5.

After a strong finish in conference play, the Bear Cubs are optimistic for the conference playoff tournament beginning Friday, looking to take the lessons they’ve learned throughout the season with them as they prepare to play their most meaningful games so far. 

The team’s final conference record was 5-3 and overall record 10-6-1, including a 4-0-1 finish in their last five games. The three captains, sophomores Katherine Monroy, Jessica Haro and Dominique Garzoli share the belief that the team’s strong finish of regular play was due to the trust that developed within the group. 

“Honestly, I think our chemistry changed,” Garzoli said. “Our team two years ago is a lot different from how it is now and so just getting in that team chemistry and connecting with each other on the field really helped us get better.” 

The lost 2020 season caused a dramatic shift in mentality for the captains as well. The 2021 season became more than “just another year” and instead helped them appreciate the opportunity to play. Monroy, whose first season in 2019 was cut short after she tore her ACL, reflected on how not being able to play changed her mindset for the better.

“I was taking everything for granted,” she said. “I’m just going to wake up the next day and go to practice or a game, just a cycle over and over again.” 

As she was recovering from her injury, the pandemic hit, effectively pausing her soccer career for two and a half years.

“So for this season, I’m going to go out there and give it my all every practice, every game, because I never know when I can get hurt or another pandemic could happen,” Monroy said.

Haro planned to quit playing after the 2019 season but came back to a new and better team with teammates who played for each other and not just as individuals. 

“Deciding to come back was one of the best things I probably did for myself,” Haro said. “I felt like a piece of me was missing [due to] leaving the team and now that I’m back, I feel like this team is much more connected, and with everyone being isolated for a year, we’ve come back trying to become more of a unit together and try to understand each other more.” 

If the pandemic hadn’t happened, they might have taken the 2020 season for granted. 

“But I feel like now we’re actually taking it in, taking in the season and trying to get to the best of what we can do,” Haro said.

The team’s change in approach from the 2019 season to now was important both on and off the field. The three captains collectively agreed that in that previous season, “everyone was playing for themselves.” This season, they took on the role of captain with pride, and used it not only to push themselves to be better but to unite the team as a whole, especially for the incoming freshman who make up the majority of playing time and need the leadership. 

“This year I feel like the freshmen really look up to us more and they actually want to fight for us,” Haro said. “Our starting lineup is so young, and I feel like they’re just putting in their all to try to get us the win because they want to help us get as far as we can.” 

Players are supportive of each other this year. “It’s a very loving atmosphere,” Haro said. “We aren’t the kind of sophomores to be like, ‘Freshman do this, freshman do that.’ Instead of us thinking that we’re sophomores and they’re freshmen, we’re a team, and there’s nothing dividing us from that.”

Monroy added that they learned to not take things personally, on and off the field.

“It’s just been good. The chemistry is there and we have a really good team right now,” she said.

The Bear Cubs will face Diablo Valley College in its first tournament match-up Friday. The teams’ previous meeting Oct. 8 led to the Bear Cubs largest margin of victory with a final score of 9-1, but Coach Crystal Chaidez stressed the importance of not letting that get to their heads.

“It’s a whole different ball game,” Chaidez said, addressing players after their Thursday practice. “They have the same players and we have the same players but it’s a different location, a different day and a different game.”

Garzoli explained how they’d been on the other end of the situation and why they are not going to underestimate their opponent.

“I think of the flip side,” she said. “We’ve lost to teams really badly before, and we’ve come back and given them such a good game, and so it’s something that you have to think of in the back of your mind. They could have more passion than you and want it more than you because you’re underestimating them.”

The teams played each other near the beginning of conference play, and the two teams are both very different now. 

“If we slaughter a team, I never like to think that we’ll slaughter them again,” Haro said. “We were both new teams at the beginning of the season. They were a good team, they just couldn’t execute what they were trying to execute. Don’t underestimate them because they could easily just score on us in the first five [minutes] and be left standing there like ‘What just happened?’”

The Bear Cubs are as ready as they’ll ever be to play the most important games of the season. The game against Diablo Valley College is at 1 p.m. at the Petaluma Community Sports Center .

Should they win Friday, the conference semifinals will be Nov. 9, with the conference championship Nov. 12. 

“I’m super excited,” Garzoli said. “We’re ready.”

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About the Contributor
Garrett Ashton
Garrett Ashton, Reporter
Garrett Ashton (he/him) is in his third and last year at the SRJC, and second semester at The Oak Leaf. He is studying communications and journalism and plans to transfer in Fall 2022 to San Francisco State. After four years (including one as co-editor) of his high school yearbook, he is pursuing interests in photography, journalism, design and writing in general at The Oak Leaf. He has experience in graphic design, photography, and sports/action photography.

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