ROCKVILLE — After 11 seasons, the Solano Community College soccer team made its 11th playoff appearance Saturday, closing out an up-and-down season that saw the Falcons end their streak of five straight Bay Valley Conference championships.
Still, the run of 11 playoff appearances is intact.
“We kind of snuck in there for this year. There was a chance coming down to wire this year (we wouldn’t make it) because of our results and our conference being a little closer,” said Solano coach Jeff Cardinal, also noting that BVC play didn’t end with the Falcons having wrapped up the title early. “(Playoffs) was not automatic. We had to earn it by points.”
The Falcons (11-7-3) had some strong points to the season, but injuries to key players hampered their run at another BVC crown. But even without their top two scorers for much of the second half of the season, Cardinal said the team did well.
“Our preseason (schedule) is one of the toughest in the north easily,” he said. “Playing all the strongest teams in the north and a couple of the strongest teams in the south, we had to get the results out of those games in order to improve chances for playoffs.”
A 1-4-1 preseason sent the Falcons into conference play a little behind where they like to be, Cardinal said.
“But we picked it up,” he said. “This was a late-starting team. I felt that was how it was going to be early. We had a lot of players coming off injuries, or who red shirted or were not playing. We were late blooming. We had two or three athletes who were not cleared until August to play and scrimmage.”
Losing top scorer Sydney Sjoberg and No. 2 scorer Mallory Creamer to injuries hurt the Falcons as they battled through a much-improved conference.
“We got rolling at the end of preseason, but we lost some firepower up front,” Cardinal said. “That hurt us in terms of scoring. So we had to adjust.”
A late season win over eventual No. 3 Santa Rosa was huge in terms of earning that postseason berth, where the Falcons were the 14 seed.
“The Santa Rosa game was a big one. That earned us a lot of points toward the end there,” Cardinal said. “You schedule as strong as you can and if you get some results, that’s what gets you into the playoffs.”
Solano visited No. 2 City College of San Francisco on Saturday, falling 3-1 to end the season.
Solano got an own goal off a San Francisco defender for a 1-0 lead six minutes in, but was unable to put the ball in the net the rest of the day.
“They prepared very well and performed very well in that game,” Cardinal said of his players. “We had some good corner kicks, chances to score. It just didn’t work out.”
He also credited San Francisco’s defense.
“San Francisco, they were tough to break in and score off of,” he said.
With a good mix of freshmen and sophomores, the Falcons were a solid bunch, the coach said.
“On paper we were pretty strong, just didn’t work out having everyone at full strength,” Cardinal said.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.