Facing one of the top teams in the state, on the road, in an intense playoff match, the Clovis Community College women’s soccer team held a clean sheet for much of the game.
In the 72nd minute however, Santa Rosa’s April Gomez broke down the Clovis defense and scored the game’s first goal. Defender Ryan Hernandez then scored the second goal in the 86th minute, lifting the Bear Cubs to a 2-0 playoff win at Santa Rosa on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Just like that, an otherwise successful season came to a heartbreaking end for the Crush.
“They’re very strong defensively and they limited our goal scoring opportunities,” CCC head coach Orlando Ramirez said. “Their style of play didn’t let our team get into a rhythm and create the kind of opportunities we have been used to throughout the season.”
Nevertheless, it turned out to be a valuable experience for the Crush, who made the playoffs for the first time in the program’s two years of existence.
“Obviously for them it was a home field advantage. And for us, it was the first playoff game,” Ramirez said. “They’re a seasoned team and a team that has been at that stage many many times. It was a great learning experience.”
Despite being the far-less experienced team, the Crush showed the type of grit that had carried throughout the season.
“Even though we didn’t create chances to get goal scoring opportunities, I felt like we really didn’t leave anything out there in terms of effort and desire to compete,” Ramirez said.
With eight sophomores now transferring, Ramirez expects most of the players to return next year and to apply the experience they gained from the playoff loss.
“We look forward to having a good core of this team that got this experience,” Ramirez said. “The new girls who weren’t a part of our program last year, we got a chance to tell them how our experience was last year and how much of an improvement we made, not only on the field, but also off the field.”
The Crush went from nine total wins in 2016 to 15 wins overall in 2017. The team finished 20th in the North last year, then finished 11th this season.
“With the growth that we had, I know that other teams are taking notice. I think that’s part of the fun of this undertaking of trying to start a new program,” Ramirez said. “In the years to come, making the playoffs will be a regular occurrence for us. That’s our goal.”
The Crush continued to make leaps throughout the season, even challenging top teams such as Fresno City College.
“That first match against Fresno City, tying them at home was a big step for our program,” Ramirez said. “They’re one of the best teams in the state. We know that we can compete against team like that.”
With the season now in the rearview, the coaching staff will focus on helping the sophomores who are ready to move on to the next level.
“It’s time for us to reach out to schools and look for opportunities for them. All of them will be moving on and transferring somewhere,” Ramirez said. “For our program, that process is a key aspect of junior college, helping them move on to four-year colleges.”