DVC women's soccer preview
The Diablo Valley College women's soccer team has all the ingredients for a strong season: quality returners, impressive newcomers and a burning desire to succeed.
Head coach Cailin Mullins, in her 15th season, sees a lot of positives.
"I think our roster from top to bottom is considerably better than last season, athletically, soccer-smarts-wise, mental-toughness-wise," Mullins said. "I kind of expect we're going to have a much-improved season from last year, which we're real excited about."
The Vikings, who will open the season on Friday at Lake Tahoe, expect to contend in the Big 8 after placing sixth in 2014 with an 7-11-4 overall record. Another big team goal is to host a NorCal Regional playoff game.
Mullins sees similarities in this bunch to her excellent 2011 squad, which finished second in the Big 8 and hosted Modesto in the second round of the playoffs.
It all starts at goalkeeper, where DVC is well-stocked. Sophomore team leader Sammi Hebing of Northgate, who suffered a sprained ankle last year and still contributed some quality minutes, has quickness and great shot-stopping ability. Hebing, a captain, will be pushed by freshman newcomers Katie McLaughlin of College Park and tall Norma Jara Ruiz of Ygnacio Valley.
Fronting Hebing is returning center back Dominique Calloway of Benicia, a tough, tenacious tackler and a great leader who is "determined not to get beat," Mullins said.
Center midfielder Yazmin Jaime of Ygnacio Valley is a talented and creative playmaker with good vision.
"She'll be an exciting player to watch," Mullins said of Jaime. "She scored some pretty fantastic goals last season, but she still needed to grow up a little bit. She's definitely come a long way this last year, and I think she'll be a lot more consistent in her goal-scoring production as well."
Returner Julia Curran, an Ygnacio Valley product, is expected to be a top goal scorer. She's another strong dribbler with good pace who is growing in confidence. She can her own toughest critic.
"This spring she made a lot of progress in that area, just being more persistent, understanding that that job is kind of a low-percentage job up there," Mullins said of Curran. "She's got to be willing to keep going at defenders, and there will be opportunities for success. Even though she might get stopped the first five times, the sixth time could be the time where she could be the hero."
Mullins likes the fact that an influx of mature freshmen is pushing the sophomores and creating a healthy competition.
Freshman Carla Ramos, a midfielder/forward of Ygnacio Valley, is another clever player: a left-footer with an air of unpredictability and good finishing skills. The coaches are trying to figure out where she fits best because of her versatility and uniqueness.
Forward Hailey Sigur, a transfer from Cal State East Bay and an Arroyo graduate, is an intriguing newcomer who is raring to go. She has impressed with her speed and talent, including scoring an impressive goal in practice on Monday.
"She'll be another significant goal-scoring threat," Mullins said of Sigur. "She's fast. She's very eager to play again. She hasn't played in a competitive game in three years, so she's getting her confidence back a little bit. … She's going to be kind of unknown who will be very difficult to defend."
Things can change rapidly in a two-year competitive cycle, so it's hard to predict how your team will fare before the games begin.
Mullins, though, has an optimistic mindset.
"We were kind of middle of the road last year with a very inconsistent group," Mullins said. "This group seems to be much more focused on competing. They want to go out and be successful andwork hard. That's what's needed in the Big 8."