SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The 2013 Cosumnes River women's soccer team kicks off the season this week with aspirations of another postseason run. With their tradition of success as one of the top clubs in the region, one could easily see how lofty expectations could be levied on the team. The Hawks however, a perennial Big 8 and northern California powerhouse, already have plenty of obstacles to overcome.
The injury bug, as it has the past couple years, once again leaves CRC shorthanded to begin the year. They'll rely heavily on the leadership and experience of their veteran core, as they look to improve upon their first-round exit from the postseason last year. "My key returners are all my sophomores… (it's) going to have to be a super collective effort, says head coach Cesar Plasencia (pictured). We are truly going to have to do it with teamwork."
Much of the Hawks success this season will be predicated on team captain and returning sophomore defender, Megan Gomez. The 2012 Hawk of the Year, Gomez earned All-Conference honors last season among other accolades, and returns at center back for the Hawks. Also returning to the roster from the 2012 club will be defenders Ashley Briglia and Alexis Valenciano. Valenciano recorded one goal and one assist last season, seeing time at midfielder. Decorated freshman Alyssa Hanks also returns to CRC, as do midfielders Crystal Vega and Kaylyn Toyama. Vega and Toyama each tied for second last season in goals, and will look to once again factor into the Hawks offensive attack.
The team also adds a pair of talented junior college transfers in Kylee Daly and Vilma Gonzalez as well. Gonzalez, a transfer from American River College, will take over a lot of the scoring responsibility. Daly, who played forward at Long Beach City College, will look to contribute some experience to a young team. The pair adds to a quality recruiting class, which includes standout goalkeeper Anna Brown. Brown, a four-time letter winner, was an All-Delta league performer at nearby Elk Grove High School for the Thundering Herd.
All in all 10 incoming freshman will be counted on to contribute as the Hawks look to make yet another run deep into the CCCAA postseason. The Hawks begin a brutal non-conference schedule later this month, which will continue through the end of September, when Big 8 conference play begins. Cosumnes River will play 14 contests against Big 8 opponents this season, half of which will be at home.
This year's schedule includes a brutal collection of non-conference matches against Solano, Canyons, Fresno City, Cerritos, Butte and Evergreen Valley. "Part of the problem is that I schedule very tough so it's going to be a huge challenge to get back to final four," says the ten-year veteran Plasencia. Matches begin with the debut of the brand-new CRC soccer fields, with the Hawks home opener against Solano on August 27. The difficult scheduling continues through September, as the Hawks begin the month on the road for a pair of matches against perennial postseason contenders Fresno City and Cerritos on September 4th and 6th, respectively. CRC opens Big 8 competition on the road against rival Santa Rosa Junior College on September 24. They'll return home the following Friday for their conference home opener against Modesto JC on September 27. Cosumnes River will also host three night matches this season, which will be held at CRC Stadium.
The 2013 season will be an exciting one at Cosumnes River College for soccer, as the college will once again play host to the CCCAA men's and women's state championships. The matches will take place on December 6 and 8, on the newly constructed CRC soccer fields. In reflecting upon hosting the 2013 CCCAA State Championships, coach Plasencia was candid about his feelings about hosting. "I was really excited about hosting but after I got the news (we lost two key returners), I lost some of that excitement."
In reflecting on the potential strengths and weaknesses of the 2013 club, coach Plasencia remained adamant about the young Hawks need to play team soccer. "As I said our strength is going to be our ability to defend and to play collective soccer. We are going to have to make each other better and it's going to have to happen quick." We'll certainly have to find out quickly, with the season opener just days away; but how quickly? "(I'm) not sure about (the) lineup now. (We're) going to have to figure things out on Monday."