The American Canyon High girls soccer team graduated four players who had nearly half of the Wolves’ goals and assists last season, including two-time Napa County Player of the Year Julia Cummings.
On top of that, four of 10 juniors did not come back for Travis Behn’s third season at the helm despite the head coach being 15-4-1 in Solano County Athletic Conference play.
But the six who did come back as seniors were all productive last season, helping the Wolves get back to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with a third-place finish after winning a conference co-championship in the spring of 2016.
Back as co-captains for the second year in a row are forward-midfielder Jaylynn Del Rosario, who had eight goals and five assists last winter, and sweeper-defender-midfielder Ana Herrera, who had 12 goals and 10 assists.
Behn said Herrera had so many goals and assists last season because she and Cummings switched between midfielder and sweeper due to injuries.
“That’s why Julia didn’t have the league record for goals scored, because she played defense half the time,” the coach said. “She would play defense one half and Ana would play one half. Now Ana is anchoring our defense.”
Defender-midfielder-forward Rebecca Richards had five goals and four assists last winter, and probably has the most stamina on the team after leading the girls cross country team in every race this fall. Sophia Conlon returns to the midfield after scoring three goals last season. Defender-midfielder Isabel Gonzalez had an assist last winter, while Jessica Vega allowed only four goals in 280 minutes over six games.
Four of the juniors are varsity returners – midfielder-striker Alexus Jackson, who had four goals and an assist last year; defender and co-captain Elva Cortez and midfielder-forward Isabelle Ramos, who each had a goal and assist; and defender Camill Bagta and midfielder-defender Tamarah Childs.
Sophomore goalkeeper-defender Greta Fast is back after splitting time between the varsity – where she blocked a penalty kick – and JV last season, and is now a varsity co-captain.
New to the varsity are junior goalkeeper-midfielder Cameron Causey, juniors Natalie Rangel and Nicole Link in the midfield or on defense, and sophomores Korie Harvey (defense) and Christin Locke (midfield, striker, defender).
“A lot of these girls I’ve been coaching since they were freshmen, so we just have to get back to our set pieces and everything else that we’ve done,” Behn said after a Nov. 21 scrimmage against Vintage at Memorial Stadium. “We don’t have the problem we had last year, figuring out who was going to be our keeper, who was going to be our defense – we pretty much know. So we’re just (getting used to) playing together again because a lot of them have played on club teams or played volleyball, run cross country or done band or choir.”
American Canyon outscored the Crushers in that scrimmage, but the Wolves were outscored the night before in a scrimmage at Dixon.
“Dixon had some trick plays on corner kicks,” Behn said, noting that only Jackson, Herrera, Ramos, Conlon and Causey played club soccer this year. “With most of the girls not playing soccer since last year, we just have to go back over the basics (of defending) set pieces and we’ll be fine.”
The Wolves have 24 players on their junior varsity team this season.
“There’s some talent there, too,” he said. “We’re trying to ramp up for when we go to the North Coast Section next year because they normally have freshman, JV and varsity teams. Their programs have been running like that for a long time, so they get a lot of playing time.”