SRJC women to play for State soccer crown

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

 The Santa Rosa Junior College women’s soccer team will play for the state title after beating Cerritos College, 1-0, in a semifinal game Friday in Santa Clarita.

The Community College Athletic Association championship will be decided at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Bear Cubs will face San Bernardino, a 2-0 winner over Fresno City in the day’s other semifinal contest.

Katie Deneau, a sophomore from Santa Rosa High, gave the Bear Cubs the only goal of the game on a header off a corner kick in the 15th minute. Cara Curtin got the assist when she kicked the ball to a cluster of players jockeying for position in front of the Cerritos net.
Deneau out-jumped the other players and popped the ball inside the far end of the goal.

“I’ve never seen Katie jump that high,” coach Emiria Salzmann said. “She said she had so much adrenalin, she jumped higher than she’s ever jumped before.”

It was a revenge game for SRJC. In the 2008 state championship, Cerritos beat the Bear Cubs, 4-2, in overtime.

Santa Rosa is 18-0-5, and Salzmann said the outstanding record is testimony to more than athletic ability.

“This team refuses to lose,” she said. “In every game, they’ve outplayed their opponents using heart, playing smart plus ability.

“They showed incredible heart against Cerritos. It wasn’t their most tactfully perfect game, but they refused to lose.”

Goalkeeper Tara Funk had her best game of the year. The freshman from Petaluma High stopped four shots and her defense helped by spoiling numerous other scoring chances by the Eagles.

“When we got that goal in the 15th minute, everyone’s energy level shot up,” Funk said “I took a deep breath and tried to relax because I knew if I didn’t allow a goal, we’re going to the finals.

“Those last two minutes of the game were the longest of my life. I kept looking up at the scoreboard waiting to see those zeroes.”

Both teams had good scoring opportunities after the first goal, but the defenses prevailed.

“My girls defended very well in the second half,” Salzmann said. “We were able to disrupt their attack pattern and pressured them to hit over the top.

“The scouting report on the Cerritos offense was that they were very good in the air and on long balls.”

Cerritos, the No. 2 team out of Southern California, finished the season 22-2-2.
Santa Rosa, Northern California’s top seed, has won the Big 8 Conference four years in a row.

“We’ve got one more game to go,” Salzmann said. “In the semis, the girls used the pressure of being in the state finals to make them stronger. Not many teams can turn pressure into a positive. If we show that kind of heart on Sunday, we’ll do just fine.”