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The Bear Cubs scored so fast at the start of the second half Friday that the clock wasn’t even running yet.

Hosting College of the Redwoods, the Santa Rosa Junior College women’s soccer team spent the first half hammering the Corsairs and getting denied time and again. When the whistle blew to open the second half, freshman Kitana Gonzalez went solo to goal, beating defenders before dishing to a wide-open April Gomez, who was the first Bear Cub all afternoon to shoot around Redwoods goalkeeper Juliana Ortega-Miranda instead of sending balls straight into her gloves.

That was the first salvo, at last, in a 3-0 nonconference victory that started with a first-half scoring drought.

“It’s frustrating,” Gomez said. “We could have had like seven goals already.”

Gomez needn’t have worried. More would come.

Seventeen minutes into the second half, Gomez got No. 2 for the Bear Cubs. The sophomore, who prepped at Montgomery, had a solo run at Ortega-Miranda and made good on it to put the home team up a pair of goals.

Two minutes later, freshman Krystal Garcia, who prepped at Woodlake Union High School in Woodlake, scored her first collegiate goal on a tap-in after Ortega-Miranda could not control yet another Bear Cubs strike, continuing the deluge after the drought.

“It wasn’t formation, it wasn’t that we weren’t getting enough opportunities,” coach Crystal Howard said of the first-half shutout.

And the drought seemed to feed on itself. If Ortega-Miranda wasn’t stopping them single-handedly, the Bear Cubs were hitting the post, or the cross bar, or sending shots wide. The Corsairs’ defense was no match for the Bear Cubs’ speed, but the home team could not capitalize for 40 minutes.

But Howard, who had to create a lineup for this bye-week, non-Big 8 game without her leading scorer or her starting goalkeeper, said there were positives to the effort. The Bear Cubs kept grinding, they got three goals without the services of striker Eden Brooker and they got a second straight shutout.

“I told them after the game that that’s a good response,” she said of Gomez’s first goal that she and Gonzalez practically willed in.

“April just set the tone,” she said. “She’s cool, she’s calm and collected.”

For as much as the Bear Cubs were shooting, Miranda-Ortega didn’t give away many second chances. When the ball came her way, she collected it. There were few bobbles, few punches. She was a veritable black hole for the Corsairs for a good long time.

“She’s awesome,” Redwoods coach Julio Ayala said of his freshman.

The Bear Cubs came into Friday’s game on a three-game win streak. They are now 4-1-1 overall and 1-0 in Big 8 Conference play after beating Modesto 2-0 on the road Tuesday.

But come next Tuesday, they will face their biggest challenge of the young season when they travel to Folsom Lake.

The Folsom Lake Falcons have had the Bear Cubs’ number in recent years. They have knocked them out of the NorCals in the third round two years running. And last fall the Falcons won the Big 8 while Santa Rosa finished third. Folsom finished second in conference in 2016 while the Bear Cubs finished third.

“They have been our Achilles’ heel ever since they got into our conference,” Howard said.

So in some ways, Friday was the tuneup the Bear Cubs wanted. They thoroughly dominated, they scored goals that didn’t come from the foot of Brooker, who before she dinged her ankle in the Modesto game Tuesday had scored seven goals in five games. She has scored more than half of the team’s total goals.

No Brooker showing was more dazzling than scoring three goals in eight minutes to help the Bear Cubs secure a tie with Taft on Aug. 29. Down 3-0 with 10 minutes to play, Brooker scored in the 80th, 85th and 88th minutes.

It’s a great comfort knowing goals can come in flurries and it’s an even greater comfort knowing that a player can change the tide of a game so abruptly. But after Friday, it’s also got to be some comfort knowing that goals can cored by more than one player.

“Eden, she scores most of the goals, and we did it without her,” Gomez said. “Now that gives us a little confidence.”

Brooker’s absence may help explain the eight offside whistles blown on the Bear Cubs. Yes, the Bear Cubs’ offensive unit was far and away faster than Redwoods’ back line, but Santa Rosa could not get their timing right on through balls. They were whistled offside seven times in the first half.

That might be function of having new personnel up top and midfielders getting used to the timing of different players.

To that end, Gizel Carranza, a freshman out of Casa Grande who is working her way back from injury, put the Corsairs under pressure much of the afternoon with her runs down the right side, many of which led to crosses into the box.

But too often, those ended up in the hands of Ortega-Miranda. The Bear Cubs surely will not have the plethora of scoring chances on Tuesday.

And Howard may have a minor goalkeeper controversy on her hands. Freshman Yarely Figueroa, who played at Roseland University Prep, has posted two shutouts since coming in for freshman Megan Anderson, a Santa Rosa High grad, who has been suffering flu-like symptoms.

Howard’s got a couple of days to tinker with her lineup if she chooses to. She also has a couple of days to help her team understand the short, fiery back story of Santa Rosa vs. Folsom Lake.

“Tuesday there will be a lot of emotional investment. There is a lot of history,” she said.

A lot of history but not a lot of chances, likely. Come Tuesday, the Bear Cubs will have to make good on the ones they create.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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