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American River dashes SRJC dreams of another state soccer title

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Quicker than you can say penalty kick, dreams of a second consecutive state title for the Santa Rosa JC women’s soccer team ended Tuesday afternoon on its home turf.

After the Bear Cubs and American River played two regulation and two overtime periods (120 minutes) without scoring, the right to advance to the third round of the CCCAA State Tournament came down to penalty kicks and the visitors prevailed, 9-8.
Sarah Chase made the shot to put American River ahead, 9-8, and moments later, Molly Schuster’s attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Heather Derossett.

“A heartbreaking, devastating loss,” first year coach Tracy Hamm said. “We had chances to score before going to penalty kicks and didn’t put the ball away.”

Given the recent history between the two schools, this was an upset. The Bear Cubs had won the last seven in the series, including two games this year.

“We last won in 2009,” American River coach Paul Arellanes said.

“We haven’t scored a goal on Santa Rosa’s field in 2½ years. Until now, it’s been a house of horrors for us.”
The Beavers still haven’t scored a goal here, but they’re still playing and Santa Rosa isn’t.

Rain fell intermittently and the wind gusted during the game. It was nearly dark when the marathon ended.

The conditions made it difficult for the keepers to defend against penalty kicks. The turf became slick, making it impossible to get traction to move in position to block a ball coming from 12 yards out. Also, the wet surface made the ball spin more than it would on a dry turf.

If practice makes perfect, Santa Rosa should’ve won the penalty shootout.

“For the last 20 practices, we’ve spent 30 minutes practicing penalty kicks,” Hamm said.

American River worked on free kicks sporadically, Arellanes said.

Santa Rosa took control of the game in the final 15 minutes and continued the momentum in overtime. During that time, the Bear Cubs attempted a majority of their 11 corner kicks.

“They were at our throats late in the game,” Arellanes said. “My girls battled and kept them from scoring.” Goalie Derossett blocked or deflected four good scoring opportunities.

While the Bear Cubs failed to repeat as state champs, they had a successful season.

They won the Big Eight Conference for the sixth year in a row and finished 15-4-2.

“I told the girls they should be proud of themselves,” Hamm said.

“The Big Eight is the toughest conference in the state and they won that.

“For me, this season was the most fun I’ve had in my life.”