VIKINGS STILL RIDING HIGH AFTER TIE

VIKINGS STILL RIDING HIGH AFTER TIE

VIKINGS STILL RIDING HIGH AFTER TIE
DVC midfielder Vanessa Ruvalcaba seemed every bit the natural-born competitor after Tuesday's hard-fought 1-1 draw with visiting San Joaquin Delta in yet another Big 8 showdown.
The relentless but soft-spoken star scored on an opportunistic goal after Cameron Chan's attempt banked off the crossbar in the 59th minute. Even though Delta's Iris Cruz equalized with an "El Golazo" in the 78th minute, her long, dipping shot just eluding the fingertips of leaping goalkeeper Katie McLaughlin, the Vikings ended the day like they started it – in first place.
DVC, trying to fend off defending champion Santa Rosa, can nail down its first-ever Big 8 title with wins in its final two games against teams they've beaten. They are at Sierra on Friday and at home against American River on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
What makes these Vikings special?
 "The way we play for each other," said Ruvalcaba, who has eight goals and five assists. "We all want to win, that's the thing, so we all put the same effort."
The Vikings are in unchartered territory in a powerhouse conference. One year after finishing 8-6-7 overall and 5-4-5 in the Big 8, the Vikings are riding high at 13-1-5 overall and 5-0-5, and have been ranked as high as No. 3 in the national JC Division III poll.
They play with style, confidence and panache in every quadrant of the field – the players' collective will even more impressive than their skill. DVC hit the frame twice in the second half.
Top striker Noelle Lemos, who just missed finding the net in the 40th and 86th minute, worked well fending off defenders on the left, her turns on goal works of art. Crafty Karla Ramos was also excellent on the left on a muddy field, and the Vikings' sound back line probably deserved a shutout.
"I think we played really well," said Lemos, a freshman who redshirted at UC Davis. "We did a great job. We did everything we wanted to work on, minus putting more away in the back of the net."
Lemos, who also played for the Pleasanton Rage, had an amazing career at Benicia High with 82 goals and 35 assists over a three-year varsity career. She led the team to section titles her junior and senior years.
But she walked off the field Tuesday with mixed emotions.
"I always feel like I had the chances to win the game for us, so I just kind of go away with I was almost there," she said. "Now I know in practice I've got to work that much harder to make sure I put them all in the net. A tie isn't going to be good enough anymore."
Echoing Ruvalcaba's sentiments, Lemos says the Vikings "play for each other," which gives them extra individual strength.
"We all get a long," she said. "At practice we're laughing and having a good time working hard and we're on each other if we're not working hard enough. We're just there for each other. Our support system is what keeps us fighting. If someone misses, someone says, 'OK, you've got this. Now you've got to work even harder to get it back.' Our willpower comes from our support."
-- Matt Schwab