ROCKVILLE — Through three games – two losses and a tie – the Solano Community College women’s soccer has yet to find the net, but coach Jeff Cardinal is confident that will change.
In fact, in addition to an athletic, experienced defensive group, he sees a solid offensive side of things as a strength of the squad.
“The team has good speed in all areas of the field and some natural goal-scorers,” Cardinal said. “On the attacking side we have an excellent mix of creativity and raw talent that allows us to be dynamic and unpredictable in transition and in the final third of the field.”
The Falcons will indeed be unpredictable, even to Cardinal, because they have so many new players.
They return four starters in midfielder and team captain Bryce Branagan-Franco (Napa High graduate), forward Angie Dooley (Vanden), defender Candis Hatfield and midfielder Kendall Pickett (Napa).
The two other returning players from last year’s team are midfielder/defender Jennifer Dessel (Armijo) and midfielder Kelsey Hamister (St. Patrick’s), both freshmen who red-shirted last year.
The only other sophomore is forward/midfielder Crystal Thompson (Vintage), who played for Huntington University in Indiana last year.
Newcomers Cardinal is expecting to make an impact are goalkeeper Danelle Hendershot, (Wood), midfielder/defender Tia Rowley (Armijo High), who attended Sacramento State last year but did not play soccer, forward/midfielders Jordan Hish (Wood), Harmonie Carranza (Rodriguez) and Hendrix (Vacaville), defenders Kayli Cook (Rodriguez), Amanda Hadsell (Wood), Brittney Wheeler (Armijo), midfielder Estela Garibay (Davis) and midfielder/defender Desarae Lewis (Wood).
Other new players to the program include midfielder/forward Megan Welsh (Armijo), goalkeeper/forward Geneva Bouchet (Benicia), midfielder Asia Calvo (Davis) and midfielder Bianca Gonzalez (Rodriguez).
“There is a wide variety of playing experience in the team,” Cardinal said. “Some have played high-level club soccer while others count high school soccer as their highest level of play, so heading into the season the biggest concern was the learning curve.
“We constantly challenge the players to push themselves to improve all aspects of their game, (the technical, tactical, and mental components) and have been very impressed with their overall response. Moving into the season the biggest concern will be the ability to continuously improve those components while balancing fitness, injuries and a full schedule.”
Cardinal sees “successfully navigating” what should be a tough and “ever-improving” Bay Valley Conference schedule with a small team as the Falcons biggest challenge for the season.
Naturally, winning the BVC title and advancing deep into the playoffs are again Solano’s main targets.
“Our primary goal is always to play to our best ability regardless of the result of the game,” Cardinal said. “Taking back the BVC championship and finishing conference play in our peak and (being) injury free to make a strong run in the playoffs are companion goals that will materialize if we focus and realize our primary goal.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.