The highest preseason ranking in Sierra College soccer history comes with the stark reality of the Wolverines facing three NSCAA-ranked teams by the end of August. Sierra, ranked #4 in the first NSCAA poll, opens against #8 Fresno City College Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 5:00pm at the Sierra Soccer Complex in Rocklin.
The season opener for the Wolverines and the Rams is a crucial grudge match for two teams that faced each other in the 2012 NorCal final. Sierra escaped with a bruising 2-1 win to advance to the California Community College Athletic Association state title tournament, where the Wolverines finished third.
The Wolverines travel to the prestigious Ventura Tournament next week to face #18 Cypress on Aug. 29 and #16 Ventura on Aug. 31. Sierra opens Big 8 Conference action Sept. 24 at home against Diablo Valley College. Santa Rosa has captured six straight conference crowns and seven out of the eight league teams made the NorCal playoffs last year, including American River College, who joined Sierra in the state final four.
Head coach Jason Gantt welcomes back a solid sophomore class that includes defenders Elizabeth Baldwin (Bella Vista HS), Laurel Glass (Bella Vista) and Tiffani Rice (Oakmont), and midfielders Giuliana Grana (Rocklin), Alex Heptner (St. Francis) and Jasmin Lopes. Second-year players Meghan Martell (Bella Vista) and Carissa Schlessinger anchor a solid front line.
Newcomers Celene Johnson (Cimarron HS in Nevada) and Molly McConnell (Whitney) will vie for playing time at goalie. Gantt expects immediate contributions from new front-liner Brittany Bravo, a transfer from Southwest Missouri St., and midfielder Casey McCavitt from UNC Greensboro. Incoming Wolverine freshmen include defenders Ashley O’Connor (Oakmont), Zaida Pineda (Antelope), and Marissa Vaughan (Roseville), midfielders Christina Keyes (Colfax) and Brittany Neumann (Whitney).
Gantt gets immediate front-line depth from freshmen Alanna Greenhow (Casa Roble) and Virginia Millan (Foothill), the attacking MVP of the Pioneer Valley Conference.