By Seamus Geoghegan
The Rams Women’s soccer season came to a disheartening end after a loss at Hartnell College ended the team’s playoff run.
The side had a dominant season, going through their regular-season games with a 15-4 record and conceding only 10 goals.
“If you put it into perspective, it was a great year,” Coach Jeff Wilson said. “If you look at everything that we accomplished, the amount of goals we scored, how little we gave up, I would say it was very successful.”
Coach Wilson came away from the season with the Coast Conference South Coach of the Year award, an award decided by coaches in their respective conference.
“I think anytime you get an award like that as a coach, it really comes down to the players that you have,” Wilson said. “So I would, I would give more credit to them. The way I view it is I steer the ship, and they determine the destination.”
Heading into the playoffs, the Rams were to face Santa Rosa Junior College, a team that, prior to this season, had remained unbeaten against the team under Coach Wilson.
“Santa Rosa, they’ve always been kind of our nemesis,” Wilson said. “When you see the entire team celebrate a goal, whether it be on the bench or the field, I think it really says a lot … that’s probably the fondest moment to me [this season], that game and just the joy that we played with.”
After beating their pseudo-rivals, the team headed into another tough playoff game. Hartnell College had been one of few teams to beat them earlier in the regular season, and they faced them again in an all-or-nothing showdown.
Losing to them earlier in the season was daunting but also encouraging for defender Elaina Gonzalez, as the team had taken a lot away from that experience.
“We definitely learned because the first game we just came out, and we didn’t come out hard. We lost 2-0. There’s two goals in the first 10 minutes,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve got to come out with your own game, otherwise you’re gonna lose.”
“We were told to not pressure as much, because we just, you know, we wanted to play it safe. And I think that was a big mistake the first time we played them because we gave them just a lot of time,” forward Leslie Murillo said. “We gave them a chance to come at us instead of us pressuring them.”
With the last game they had played in mind, the team went into the match versus Hartnell with a new plan.
“We put more players up to try and deny them the ability to build up, and that’s what we did from minute one,” Wilson said, “We dominated the first half, even to the point where the opposing coach was like, ‘I can’t believe it was 0-0.’”
“We were both fighting really hard. I think our team did really well,” Murillo said. “There were many chances to have, two or three of our shots hit the crossbar,” she added, “It was a very, very close game.”
Despite City having more chances at goal, Hartnell pulled ahead last minute with a late goal. As the game came to a close, waves of disappointment set over the Rams side.
“It wasn’t a lack of effort or anything, just kind of the game of soccer can be cruel,” Coach Wilson said. “Two good teams face each other, just one put the ball in, and we didn’t quite get that done.”
Now, the team is moving forward and preparing to do even better next season.
“Overall, it was just a 1-0 loss. We packed it up from there, went home, and next season—here we come,” Gonzalez said.
“This is probably one of the best teams I’ve ever played with throughout my whole soccer career. Starting off with coach Jeff, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve had,” Murillo said. “I love playing with the girls … I think we’re a very talented team … Overall, I think we had a great season.”