PREP SOCCER: Bear River edges Nevada Union in chilly cross-county match
December 1, 2016
Frigid faces rendered red, shivering substitutes, heavily-clothed coaches and a soccer ball hardened by the cold. That was the scene on a chilly Thursday evening at Hooper Stadium when Nevada Union and Bear River faced off for a cross-county girls soccer match.
In an early season non-league bout between the two high schools, it was the Lady Bruins earning a 2-1 victory over the Lady Miners.
With the temperature hovering in the low-40s at kickoff, Bear River scored two first half goals to grab an early lead it never relinquished despite a spirited rally by Nevada Union in the second half.
"I liked that they kept fighting, kept working, they didn't give in and they were persistent in the second half," Nevada Union head coach Joe Breault said after the game. "It's a new system that we are playing and this was the first game we've played it. So, they were figuring things out in the first half and it took them a little while, but in the second half they figured out some things and you could see that in the second half we pretty much had the run of play."
Bear River junior Savannah Collyer staked the Lady Bruins to an early 2-0 lead with a pair of goals coming in the 23rd and 24th minute of the match.
"Savannah has a lot of experience and she is a playmaker," said Bear River head coach Joe Giovacchini. "She sees the field very well… She brings experience, toughness and knowledge of the game. She is our playmaker and our glue from defense to offense."
Collyer's first goal came after she intercepted a clear attempt by NU, she then dribbled up field sent in a low shot to the left corner from about 20 yards out. On her second goal, Collyer passed to junior striker Eleni Ruocco-Brown, who one-touch passed the ball back to Collyer, who then fired the ball past NU's goalie.
"We worked as a team really well," Collyer said after the game. "We got a lot of players in, players that don't play very much and they all did really good."
After halftime, the Lady Miners put some pressure on the Bear River goalie, sending in multiple shots on goal. After several quality shots by NU's Jordan Tavares, the Lady Miners finally netted a goal when Celeste Picone rifled one past Bear River's goalie.
The Lady Miners would threaten a couple more times down the stretch, but Bear River's defense held strong down the stretch. Lady Bruins goalie Natalie Hubacz finished the game with six saves. Nevada Union goalies Taylor Bucher and Amelie Gartin split time and both made five saves.
Girls soccer had been played during the spring season and boys soccer in the fall season prior to this year. In 2015, the Sac-Joaquin Section voted to move both to the winter season.
Breault said there are pros and cons when it comes to soccer in the winter season.
"The pros are that some of the girls that couldn't play in the spring now can play in the winter," he said. "The con is having to play up here in the cold and it's hard on the players. We'll see how it goes."
For Giovacchini the cons out weigh the pros.
"I think there are more cons than pros," he said. "The reason I say that is we don't have turf (at Bear River). The other night when we played against Forest Lake, the field was very soggy and it's very hard on the girls because it takes a lot out of you physically because your running on a heavy field."
Bear River (1-1) will now head to the Golden Sierra Tournament. The Lady Bruins will then have three other non-league games before it opens Pioneer Valley League play Jan. 11 against Placer. Nevada Union (1-3) will compete in the Raider Classic Tournament this weekend. The Lady Miners have opted out of the Sierra Foothill League and become an independent this season and will play a series of games against teams from all over the area and from multiple leagues.
"The decision to go independent was based on the competitiveness and safety issues we were concerned about playing in the SFL," Breault said. "The SFL is the top women's soccer league in Northern California and they are big, strong players. We could not compete with them and we felt to build the program we needed to slow things down a little."
Nevada Union has not won an SFL game since 2013.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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