The Napa Valley College men’s soccer team is off to a 2-0 start after nonconference wins against Chabot College-Hayward, 3-2, and College of the Redwoods-Eureka, 4-3.
Coach Rogelio Ochoa said his team, which has also scrimmaged Pacific Union College, looks motivated and ready to learn.
“They are excited and looking forward to this season,” said Ochoa. “Our strength this season has to be our depth. We have a solid group where all can contribute, which will be crucial throughout season.”
A weakness, said Ochoa, is that there are only two returning players. The rest are first-year college players.
“But this can also be seen a positive,” said Ochoa, the Storm’s first-year coach. “These gentlemen have the potential to go as far as they push themselves. It’s a good group of men. Considering it’s my first year, it’s important to set the foundation for the program for years to come.”
Edwin Martinez (goalkeeper), Jake Lustig and Kenny Jaramillo (defenders), and Christian Diaz, Gary Tovar and Marco Gomez (midfield) are the team’s leaders.
“All are great players that don’t only do well themselves, but help teammates around them,” said Ochoa. There are 23 players on the roster.
A look at the other NVC fall sports teams:
Napa Valley (0-8 overall) is looking for its first win of the season after losing two matches at the Hartnell Classic in Salinas, Solano Classic, City College of San Francisco Classic, and Diablo Valley College Classic in Pleasant Hill.
The Storm has lost to Foothill-Los Altos Hills (3-0), Hartnell (3-0), West Valley-Saratoga (3-0), Gavilan-Gilroy (3-0), Folsom Lake (3-0), CCSF (3-0), DVC (3-0), and Ohlone-Fremont (3-1).
It’s been a tough nonconference schedule for Napa Valley.
“Last year’s team was in a similar situation, although I think the schedule this year is even tougher than that one and with a broader range of opponents from different conferences,” said coach Kristen Iordanova. “It’s all for team to use to get experience, gain chemistry and get ready for conference play. We also have a couple of nonconference matches mixed into our conference play.
“I think it will be interesting to see how the team progresses as the season goes on and to see how they play against nonconference opponents later in the season. We really like our ball control this season. It’s much improved over last season. We’re a little on the smaller side this year, so that will be important for us.”
It’s a young team, with 10 freshmen on the roster.
“We’re very excited about this year’s team,” said Iordanova. “I think that we have a lot of real scholar-athletes this year. These young ladies are both excellent students and talented athletes.”
The Storm, which begins the Bay Valley Conference season at home on Wednesday against Mendocino College-Ukiah, also has a lot of potential, the coach said.
“They are still learning what they’re capable of at this level and beyond,” said Iordanova. “They get better every day. We’re excited to watch them grow as individuals and as players. It’s exciting to watch them gain confidence and play together as a team.
“We’ve tried a few different line-ups in the preseason and in scrimmages to try to figure out which combination of players complement each other the best.”
Claudine Basco plays the libero position and was honorable mention All-BVC last year.
“She will be a leader on the team as a veteran of last season,” said Iordanova.
The NVC team has sisters Hannah and Rebekah Parinas. Hannah is a setter, but has proven to be versatile and is capable of playing middle or opposite as well, said Iordanova. Rebekah will likely get time on the court as a defensive specialist and back-up libero.
Alexia Stewart plays middle blocker.
Kayse Huettis and Grace Carter have been sharing setting duties.
Malia Johnson and Jaelynn Dominguez have been solid as outside hitters.
Candice Turk is a versatile player who has seen some time at middle blocker and opposite.
Megan Corpuz (outside hitter/opposite), Tanya Villegas and Destiny Louie are also on the team.
“We’re looking to get better every day. Our goal is to prepare for conference play, keep getting better as a team and be competitive in conference play,” said Iordanova.
Sierra Smith, Desiree Ramos, Diana Mahknist and Sacha Lagmay are playing for the Storm.
Napa Valley began Big 8 Conference play by placing seventh out of eight teams at Whitney Oaks Golf Club in Rocklin.
Smith led the Storm with an 87, finishing in sixth place out of 44 players. Ramos (91), Lagmay (106) and Mahknist (108) also played.
Coach Bob Freschi said the players have made great strides in their game the last few weeks.
“They work hard in practice and enjoy playing the game of golf,” said Freschi. “We would like to improve our team score every match. We must learn from our mistakes and have a strong mental game when things go awry.”
Smith is the Storm’s only returning player.
“Sierra is vastly improved in all aspects of her game. We stressed her short game this summer and it’s paid off so far to start the season,” said Freschi. “Sierra is our top player and displays it every day in our practice by winning most of our competitive drills. She is a fierce competitor in all aspects of her game.”
Smith and Ramos have the potential to compete for medalist honors in every conference match, said Freschi.
Napa Valley is off to an 0-3 start following nonconference losses to DeAnza College-Cupertino (5-0), Sacramento City (4-1), and College of the Redwoods-Eureka (4-1).
“We are as young as you can be as a team. Youth is often seen as a weakness, but in our situation it is our strength,” coach Randi Simmons said. “The fresh faces, new energy, and positive vibes are just fun to be around every day and exciting to build a program around. We are excited to come to practice and be together every day. This is one of our biggest strengths – that all of the girls want to play for each other and be the best they can be for each other.
“Every game we are playing against an opponent that has had a core group playing together for two years, while we have come together in the last four months. We don’t view that as a weakness though, because we have worked that much harder to make time for each other and get the time in as a group. It’s been nothing but positive.”
Every game is a learning experience, said Simmons.
“We have learned a lot about ourselves and will continue to come away from each game more experienced and wiser for it. These first six matches will push us and guide us to where we need to be in order to be ready come conference,” said Simmons.
This year is critical for the program as the Storm is establishing a foundation and Simmons is instilling a new attitude.
“Culture and chemistry is always a focus. But this year, especially, as we are growing this team into a well-rounded program, it’s at the forefront,” the coach said. “Building a program can take time but it starts with the people. Our players, our people, are top notch and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of young women to do something special with here and build a program from the ground up. That’s the team side of things, though individually I’m trying to help each of these women grow as both people and players and make sure we have fun doing it.”