1-0 win over Diablo Valley pushes 10th-ranked women to 8-1-1 record

On the first day of tryouts this summer, Santa Rosa Junior College women?s soccer coach Emiria Salzmann thought the Bear Cubs could have something special.

Nearly two months later, her opinion hasn?t changed.

SRJC added more evidence that it could make a deep postseason push Tuesday with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Diablo Valley College in its Big8 Conference opener at Trione Fields.

The win moved the Bear Cubs, ranked No.10 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, to 8-1-1. Their only loss came against Cabrillo, the defending state champions.

?I think of all the years I?ve coached, this team had the best camaraderie right away,? Salzmann said. ?The first day we did sprints, they were so supportive of each other. I knew then we had something special. That?s half the battle. They have to want to fight for each other and work for each other. And they showed that on the first day.?

On Tuesday, SRJC showed plenty of perseverance in a game in which it outshot DVC 14-3 and won the corner-kick battle 9-0, but seemed destined to tie after countless scoring opportunities were thwarted.

Its goal came in the 90th minute when a pair of Bear Cubs who has battled balky quadriceps muscles teamed up for the game-winner. Sophomore forward Niki Poole, last year?s Big8 Offensive Player of the Year, fired a shot from the wing that ticked off the outstretched hands of DVC goalkeeper Courtney Hart. Waiting at the far post for the tap-in was forward Shelby Stambaugh, a freshman making her college debut after injuries delayed her career.

Stambaugh missed last year with a torn ACL. She then pulled her quadriceps during the first week of practice this summer and didn?t return until last week. Similarly, Poole was playing with her upper left leg heavily wrapped because of a pulled quadriceps.

In the latter stages of the second half, Poole, a fast, gritty attacker, was in the middle of several scoring chances that narrowly missed.

?We had the opportunities, but the opportunities weren?t going in,? Poole said. ?We knew we were going to get one sooner or later.?

Poole and Stambaugh are from Casa Grande High. In fact, 21 of SRJC?s 22 players attended high school in Sonoma County.

Years of playing together ? or against each other ? likely have helped create their chemistry.

But co-captain Kora Wood indicated that it?s not all hugs and back slaps. Wood says their 22-player roster has helped create a more-competitive environment after SRJC played with just 14 last year.

?We have so many solid girls that you?re always fighting for your spot,? Wood said. ?In practice last year, we weren?t going full speed at each other because we didn?t want one of our 14 girls getting hurt. This year it?s just all out.?

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