SRJC men bring 10-game unbeaten streak to state

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Looking to stay hot at home, the Santa Rosa Junior College men’s soccer team plays host to Merritt College in a state-tournament opener Saturday.

Undefeated in their past 10 matches, the Bear Cubs won the Big 8 Conference title to earn the No. 3 seed in the Northern California half of the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs.

SRJC is playing well after this season’s large group of newcomers found a rhythm on the field as the season progressed and battled a challenging schedule. In the regular season, the Bear Cubs played six teams in the NorCal side of the bracket and the state’s top-ranked squad, defending champion Mt. San Antonio, in the south.

Scoring has been at a premium for SRJC, and the Bear Cubs also happen to be a stingy defensive unit.

The lone returning starter from last year’s playoff team is Keenan Whyte of Montgomery High. Whyte is a top scorer with a pair of first-year players — Victor Calderon of Fairfield and Roberto Garcia of Corning.

The defense is anchored by Dontae Garcia (Maria Carrillo), who supports the offense well. Also bolstering the back line are Rogelio Alvarado of Ukiah and Petter Lund, who is from Norway.

Defending the conference title is a goal for SRJC. Winning on Saturday would be another step forward after losing last year’s opening-round contest, also held at home.

The Bear Cubs get another home playoff contest if they win. Looming after that is conference rival American River. The region’s top seed is De Anza.

SRJC needs three wins to reach the state final four. The Bear Cubs have a pair of state titles and four appearances in the finals.

SRJC WOMEN

A strong finish in conference play sets up the Bear Cubs for the state tournament.

Opening at home with Ohlone College, SRJC wants to improve on last season’s result when the Bear Cubs were eliminated in the second round.

Finishing second in the Big 8 Conference should prepare the Bear Cubs for the elimination format of the CCCAA playoffs.

The conference has six teams in the NorCal side of the tournament led by champion Sierra College.

Including both north and south, SRJC has faced nine of the state playoff teams this year.

Win in the first round and the Bear Cubs could face conference rival Cosumnes River. Topping that half of the north region bracket is Fresno City College.

SRJC is young in college-game experience with only one returning starter from last season. The new cast of players has a link to the Bear Cubs’ 2011 state championship team in the Rebata twins, who sat out last season to focus more on school.
Scoring has been a strength. SRJC led the Big 8 in goals with Christina Rebata, from Casa Grande, sharing the conference lead and finishing second in total points. Twin sister Courtney Rebata was fourth in goals. Jill Anderson, out of Santa Rosa High, topped the conference in assists.

On defense, SRJC yielded the seconded-fewest goals in the conference. Stalwarts on the back line include Erica Cunningham, from Ursuline, and Elizabeth Borders, out of Rancho Cotate.

MENDOCINO WOMEN

Back in the state playoffs, the Mendocino College women’s soccer team is hungry for a run that begins against Taft College at home in Ukiah on Saturday.

High-scoring Mendocino is undefeated — ranked ninth in the state and fourth in Northern California — and is looking to improve on last year’s historic campaign. The Eagles won the program’s first Bay Valley Conference title and state playoff game last season.

Folsom Lake edged Mendocino for this season’s BVC championship.

With the seven seeds in the NorCal half of the state playoffs, Mendocino likely gets one home playoff match. If it wins, Mendocino will likely face Sierra College, the second seed and champion of the Big 8 Conference.

Leading the Eagles are a pair of former Mendocino High standouts. Anna Waldman is third in the state in goals and is fourth in scoring. Ronnie Richter leads the state in assists.

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