SACRAMENTO, Calif.- The Cosumnes River women's soccer team currently stands in fourth place in the Big 8 conference standings following their toughest stretch of the 2013 season.  CRC will look to move up the Big 8 ladder this afternoon, when they play host to first-place Santa Rosa.

Following a dominant preconference showing that saw the Hawks soar up the CCCAA state and national rankings, the Hawks opened the Big 8 schedule with a statement victory on the road against Santa Rosa.  The team continued to play well until the beginning of October, when CRC lost three straight contests, failing to score a goal in any of them.  Cosumnes River has since rebounded coming off a 1-0 victory over crosstown rival American River.  However, CRC will need to better offensive performance if they're going to complete the season sweep of the Bear Cubs, who visit CRC this afternoon.

"(It's a) big game against Santa Rosa," said head coach Cesar Plasencia before practice yesterday.  "A win will put us back in the race for the Big 8 title."  The Hawks have been stellar defensively for much of the 2013 season, as the team's struggles have largely been on the offensive side of the game.  "Our struggles lately have been offensively, and we made some lineup changes and tactical adjustments to try and generate more offense."

The team's offense took a hit before the season even started, when sophomore Jessica De Anda came down with a season-ending knee injury.  However, the Hawks responded well early in the year, in large part due to their defense.  As player's stepped up early on in the season, the team is looking for new talent to step up to the challenge and lead the Hawks through the second half of the Big 8 schedule.  "As with any team we need some of our players to step up and move their game to the next level," said Plasencia.  Players the coaching staff is looking to step up on offense are leading scorer Vilma Gonzalez (pictured right), as well as freshman Brianna Ascencio.  Off to a hot start to begin the season, Gonzalez has yet to find the net this month.  Ascencio scored the winning goal against American River last week, and the Hawks will look for her to continue to perform well down the stretch.

Despite the team's recent struggles in Big 8 play, the coaching staff still has high hopes for the season.  "I expect us to be a contender for the Big 8 title to the end and that will allow us to be placed high for the playoffs," said Plasencia of the team's expectations moving forward.  The Hawks will continue their push for a Big 8 title this afternoon against the Bear Cubs, with the match scheduled for a 3:30 kickoff.  Tickets are $6 for general admission, $4 for seniors, and $2 for children.  Admission is always free for CRC students, staff and faculty.  Concessions will be available to purchase at the event.