Women’s soccer opens season with shutout

Isaac Norman and Luis Lopez

With temperatures at times reaching 100 degrees, the women’s soccer team put on a scorching debut of their own, shutting out Clovis 4-0 to start the 2017 season.

The Vikings drew first blood on a goal from offensive midfielder Vanessa Ruvalcaba, who later chipped in a second strike to give the team a 2-0 lead heading into the half.

Coming out of the break center forward Noelle Lemos, who won offensive player of the year honors last season, scored two lightning quick goals of her own within the first five minutes of the second half, ending any hopes of a Clovis comeback.

Coach Cailin Mullins, who earned 2016 Big 8 and NSCAA coach of the year honors, was “very happy with the response coming out of halftime,” but acknowledged there was work to do, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“We need to get better at [tackling] and be more physical,” Mullins said, adding that this would be a continued point of emphasis for the coaching staff.

She felt the team handled the stress of the first game well, especially with the youth of some players and the inexperience of others playing out of position.

Although she was happy with the results, Mullins noted the game was not always pretty and the team had growing to do to find their identity.

“We all have a responsibility for the team getting better,” Mullins said.

To the players, improving communication on the field would be a point of emphasis to better mesh their styles together.

Ruvalcaba commented, “moving with each other and talking with each other,” were improvements they should focus on.

One huge factor working in their favor is the teams’ excellent chemistry.

“We get along,” Lemos said.

“Effort is there, that’s all that matters,” added Ruvalcaba.

The Vikings return nine players from last year’s roster, but the team’s biggest question mark will be replacing goalkeeper Katie McLaughlin, who won defensive player of the year as well as NSCAA DIII player of the year honors last year.

Freshman goalkeepers Danielle Davis from Deer Valley High School and Rylie Pearson from Concord High School will step in to fill the void left by McLaughlin.

Davis got the start and kept a clean sheet but almost gave up a goal off an errant pass early in the first half.

However, she quickly redeemed herself with a brilliant save that fired up the Vikings.

After putting up a 18-2-6 record last season, the Vikings were able to give themselves their first Big 8 title in school history, as well as their first state championship game appearance, where they ultimately fell short against Cerritos College.

While the Vikings have kinks to iron to repeat as Big 8 champions, they took a brilliant first touch to start the season.