Former Piner star Hurst leads Bear Cubs to win

Santa Rosa Junior College’s Ricky Garcia crosses the ball as Napa Valley’s Tim Brown pressures him during the game held at SRJC, Sept. 23, 2010. SRJC won 2-0. (PHOTO BY CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD).

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A deeply talented Santa Rosa Junior College men’s soccer squad still seeking greater team play looked pretty tight in handling Napa Valley College on Thursday.

Controlling play much of the game, Santa Rosa probably should have won by more than the 3-0 final tally.

Still, the Bear Cubs were pleased with another strong outing that revealed the game-tested ability of a roster studded with older players who haven’t used up their years of eligibility to play college soccer.

“We have a lot of talented players, but this group has never played together before,” said Tyler Hurst, a forward from Piner high. “We’re coming together. But we’re far from where we could be.”

Keeping the score close was a victory of sorts for Napa.

“We stayed with them as well as we can. Obviously Santa Rosa is a top ten side in the state,” said Napa coach Les Carroll.

With the non-conference victory, Santa Rosa improved to 5-2-1 against a very competitive schedule.

Hurst was high scorer against Napa with a pair of goals and an assist. Yet he is part of a larger supporting cast where a great number of players stand out.

Speedsters Ricky Garcia, from Maria Carrillo, and Rodrigo Garcia, from Elsie Allen run the sidelines and serve sharp crosses and passes to several shooters when not taking chances of their own. Their usual targets in addition to Hurst include Miguel Santoyo, out of Roseland University Prep, Simon Wheatley, from Montgomery, and Shane Halbert, a Rancho Cotate graduate.

Anchoring the defense are Andy Walker, from Ukiah, Christian Reyes, out of Santa Rosa, and Manuel Leon, another Santa Rosa graduate.

Rarely tested in a game where Santa Rosa goalie Michael Marianella – Montgomery high — only needed to make three saves, the defense played up to support an offense that sparkled at times.

The first goal came off a combination of passing culminating with Ricky Garcia serving from the left side to Hurst closing down the middle. His quick shot hit off the crossbar, but the goalie couldn’t control the rebound before Hurst banged the ball into the net.

Continuing to keep pressure on with crosses and combination passes off a dribble or less, Santa Rosa repeatedly created angles for strong shots, yet couldn’t add to the lead.

Then with a minute left in the first half, the Bear Cubs struck. Paulo Wendt – Petaluma high – had a shot knocked down, Spencer Selak got a foot on the ball to force another save and Hurst punched in that rebound.

The half ended with Santa Rosa having shots punched out and headed clear before the third in succession banged off the crossbar.

Continuing to play aggressive soccer, Santa Rosa opened some passing lanes for Napa counters on offense in the second half. Bear Cubs backs, though, patiently worked balls out of trouble and often took the play back up past midfield. Leon was particularly bold in his runs to support the offense.

Santa Rosa’s final score came on such a counter with Hurst ultimately drawing defenders and then dishing to Tuivesi Naisoro for the goal.

“We’re looking good. I think we have some really nice pieces,” said Santa Rosa coach Marty Kinahan.