WEB EXCLUSIVE: RC soccer girls off to flying start
Cougars 6-0 without allowing a goal
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The old adage in sports that you don’t win if you don’t score applies to the early season opponents of Rancho Cotate High’s girls’ soccer team.

The Cougars have blasted out of the starting gate by winning their first six contests, including forfeits over Healdsburg and Eureka. Making the early streak all the more impressive is that Rancho Cotate has yet to yield a goal in the games they’ve actually won on the field.

“Teamwork has been the key for us so far,” Rancho Cotate head coach Dennis Holmberg said. “They’ve been working hard, and not one girl has missed a practice. The girls have become a tight-knit team very early, and that’s something we’ve been working toward.”

Evidence of that closeness, Holmberg said, came during one of the lunchtime periods. A player was celebrating a birthday and every member of the team joined her for lunch.

The Cougars’ roster is comprised predominantly of underclassmen, but certain seniors have stepped to the forefront and are making solid contributions. One such senior would be goalkeeper Olivia Barnett.

“She’s really worked hard to earn that starting spot,” Holmberg said.

Senior Kelsey Bilsborough and sophomore Alexis Gumanday had spearheaded the Cougars’ defense. Gumanday, according to Holmberg, might be his best defensive sophomore. 

Sophomore Kelly Holmberg, also the coach’s daughter, plays on the front line but has had to make a formation adjustment this season as her back is more to the goal while she feeds her forward-rushing teammates. Thus far, the results have been solid, as the Cougars have scored 22 goals in the four games they’ve played on the pitch.

Fellow sophomore Hannah Ingram has taken advantage of her opportunities to the tune of a team-leading eight goals. Senior Julia Lambert also has contributed three goals thus far.

“She (Lambert) has really been playing well for us,” Holmberg said. “This is my fifth year coaching her, and I’ve never seen her play any better as a team player.”

Holmberg said he’s also been pleased with the play of midfielders Tea Lopes (sophomore), senior Francis DeLeon and sophomore Ashley Fontinelli.

“We’re a very young team, but I think we’re going to be around for awhile,” Holmberg said. “I think we’re going to do a little better than we did last year.”

The Cougars finished one game above .500 last season and qualified for the North Coast Section Div. II playoffs. If the Cougars are to have a better season than last year, finishing games will be the key.

“We need to sustain games to the end,” Holmberg said. “Last year, we’d play well for 78 minutes in certain games and then take our eye off the ball. We have to sustain it for the full 80 minutes.”

Holmberg says Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa again is the team to beat in the North Bay League. The Pumas were unbeaten last season and may be even better this year.

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