By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Led by seven returning starters, Sonoma State women’s soccer is picked to make a playoff bid.
Sonoma State, bolstered by a strong finish last season under new coach Emiria Salzmann, is pegged for second in the California Collegiate Athletic Association North and a spot in the league tournament, according to a preseason coaches’ poll.
The North race is expected to be tight with Cal State Stanislaus the favorite and Chico State right there. UC San Diego and Cal State Los Angeles are the picks to lead the South.
To make Sonoma State’s first postseason appearance in four seasons, the Seawolves will count on a corps of veteran players.
Leading the returning starters is All-West Region selection Sara Studer, a defender out of Oceanside who was second on the team in points a year ago. Also back is leading scorer Ashley Martin, a midfielder from Davis.
Former Empire prep standouts who started last season and return include midfielder Gretel Amman and goalkeeper Alex Sciacqua, both out of Montgomery High, and defender JJ McFarlin, who prepped at Santa Rosa.
Defender Megan Foy of Sacramento is back to bolster the back line. Kate McFarland (Northridge) returns in the midfield.
Joining the veterans is an incoming group of players Salzmann expects to make major contributions this season.
Twins Cara and Lauren Curtin came over from Santa Rosa Junior College after helping power the Bear Cubs to last year’s state community college title. Cara Curtin was the junior college Division III National Player of the Year. Lauren Curtin also was a junior college first-team All-American.
The pair, from Maria Carrillo High, should bolster Sonoma State’s scoring.
Tight games were last season’s story. While the Seawolves played stingy defense, Sonoma State scored little more than a goal a game.
A win or a tie in the season finale would have sent Sonoma State to the conference tournament. But a late goal carried Chico State to the victory and the CCAA North Division title.
Still, the season was a success. After opening the campaign 0-3-1, the Seawolves rebounded to finish 8-7-3 and third in the North.
Sonoma State takes the home field in Rohnert Park for scrimmages at 3 p.m. Thursday against Dominican University and 11 a.m. Sunday with UC Santa Cruz.
Regular-season play opens Aug. 30 at St. George, Utah, for the Dixie State tournament. Sonoma State plays a pair of road conference games before the team’s home opener Sept. 14 against San Francisco State.