The Bear River girls soccer team kept its playoff hopes alive Wednesday with a much-needed Pioneer Valley League win over Lincoln, 2-0.
The Lady Bruins controlled the possession for most of the game on their home pitch, and scored a goal in each half to push them past the Lady Zebras.
“I think we play better and feel more confident on our home field,” Bear River team captain Maddi Dunn said. “We practice on it and know it, and when teams come here they aren’t ready for the thick grass.”
Dunn scored the Lady Bruins’ first goal, coming in the 27th minute when Lauren Burke sent a pass to her at the top of the goalie box. Dunn then controlled the ball, dribbled a couple times and smoked the ball past a diving Lincoln goalie.
“She was so cool on the first goal,” Bear River head coach Joe Giovacchini said. “She was able to make a couple moves and put it in. Her experience, her ability, her coolness, that’s what she brings to the table. She also has a lot of good technique and that allows her to do all that stuff.”
For Dunn, the goal was her fourth this season in just nine games. Dunn was a member of the Bear River girls basketball team that made a deep run into the playoffs and kept her from joining the soccer team until six games into the season.
With just two minutes left in the first half, Lincoln broke free for their best scoring opportunity of the game. Bear River‘s sophomore goalie Jessie Cregar charged her oncoming opponent in a one-on-one scenario and was able to thwart the scoring attempt.
The second half was dominated by Bear River, but Lincoln’s defense weathered the storm without letting a goal go by until the 71st minute.
With the game still in the balance and nine minutes left, Bear River’s Cameron Ramsour broke free from the pack and jetted toward Lincoln’s goal, dribbling the soccer ball directly at the goalie. The two met at the edge of the goalie box where Ramsour alluded the save attempt and got off a pass to Kestley Shannon, who punched the ball in to give Bear River a two-goal lead, all but wrapping up their third league win of the season.
“She’s got a lot of talent,” Giovacchini said of Ramsour. “When she realizes what she can do against a defender and with her shot on goal, I think she will be a force to be reckon with.”
Giovacchini also praised the defense of Briana Flores, Olivia Kirks and Michelle Taylor for a strong effort.
“They just cleaned up everything and didn’t give Lincoln many chances this game,” he said.
Taylor had a foot on the ball for much of the game, keeping the Lady Zebra offense at bay.
“Michelle brings versatility,” Giovacchini said. “It’s not that her technique is that great, but she’s just a fighter. She fights for everything. When she’s on the ball, it’s very hard to beat her.”
The win keeps the Lady Bruins (8-5-2, 3-3-2) in the thick of the PVL playoff race and assures them of a winning season overall.
Winning is something the first year Bear River coach has become accustom to. Giovacchini, who played at San Jose State and was drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes in 1974, had previously coached the boys soccer team at Amador High School, going 83-17-11 in seven years, none of which were losing seasons.
“With this win we guarantee ourselves a winning season,” he said. “I’m very thankful to the girls for that.”
The eight wins overall and three in league play are a monumental improvement from last season’s team that went 2-10-1 overall and 1-8-1 in the PVL.
The change in culture has been a welcomed one, said Dunn.
“He definitely has changed things,” she said. “We like him, he’s cool and he knows what he’s talking about. I hate losing, and this is my last year, so I want to go out with a bang.”
Taylor agreed with Dunn.
“He makes us want to win more,” she said.
Both Dunn and Taylor said the team has been far more cohesive under Giovacchini’s tutelage.
“There’s more effort being put into it this year,” Dunn said. “There’s more team chemistry. We’re training a lot harder in practice.”
The Lady Bruins have two league games left, facing third-place Foothill (10-7-3, 3-2-2 PVL) Monday before closing the season against league-leading Placer (7-7-4, 4-1-2 PVL) on Wednesday. The Lady Bruins tied Foothill earlier this season and lost to Placer, 2-0, in their first meeting.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.