Benefield: SRJC men's soccer to start playoffs on right foot
It took the Santa Rosa Junior College men’s soccer team exactly 15 seconds to show the visiting Folsom Lake Falcons who was the better squad Friday, but the Falcons declined to accept that message until about the 80th minute, when the Bear Cubs scored again, and once more minutes later to finally put the game out of reach.
With the 3-1 win, the Bear Cubs won the Big 8 Conference banner and almost guaranteed themselves a No. 1 seed heading into Northern California’s regional playoffs next week.
Another thing that 3-1 win did? Exacted a little revenge on the Falcons, the only team in 19 games this season to blank the mighty Bear Cubs offense. These two teams tied 0-0 on Oct. 11 — the only blemish on Santa Rosa’s 9-0-1 conference record.
“It didn’t matter for Big 8, but it mattered huge for standings,” coach Marty Kinahan said of Friday’s home win. “It’s the difference between 1 and 2. You don’t want to lose your last game and limp into the playoffs.”
Those three goals keep the focus on the Bear Cubs’ outrageously potent offense.
The seeding committee will release its selections Tuesday, but the Bear Cubs gave the decision-makers little wiggle room. They are now 16-1-2 overall and 9-0-1 in conference and score an outrageous 3.4 goals per game. And what makes them even scarier is that they share the wealth. Double up on one guy and they have three more who are equally lethal.
Rigo Barragan, a sophomore who prepped at Windsor, has scored 13 goals and doled out eight assists. Freshman Alan Soto, who played at Montgomery, has 10 goals and eight assists and Alan Sanchez, who graduated from Ridgway High, has nine goals and 12 assists.
Sanchez was busy Friday. He scored in the first 15 seconds Friday, putting the Bear Cubs up 1-0 before most people had found their seats in the bleachers.
In the second half, he won the ball from a defender and set up Barragan for the back-breaker goal to make it 3-1 with eight minutes to play.
Adrian Fontanelli, a Rancho Cotate product, scored on a second-half penalty that made the score 2-1 and put his season total at 12 goals, seven assists.
“We can score on anybody,” Kinahan said.
And truth be told, they should have netted a few more Friday.
In just the fourth minute, the full prowess of the Bear Cubs’ offense was on display. Barragan drove down the left side and found a streaking Fontanelli, who then sent a perfect cross on the ground across the face of the goal that a sprinting Soto missed sliding into by an inch.
Barragan was on the second run and reached the ball but hit it over the cross bar.
It was like waves crashing on the beach. Folsom goalkeeper Arman Salimi must have been exhausted from that play alone.
Sanchez alone kept him busy for nearly 90 minutes. Sanchez got on the end of an early corner kick and struck it on a volley that required a lightning-quick, full dive to the right from Salimi for the save of the game.
“This is the battle of the north,” Barragan said. “We wanted to stay undefeated at home.”