By Jeremy McDonald
Entering the year, Ana Jones had a very young soccer team that features 11 underclassmen compare to six juniors and three seniors and had six returners from last year’s CIF-Sac Joaquin Section Division-II Section Final team
But the veteran coach was impressed with how her team answered the call of the challenge.
“The freshmen and sophomores made a great impact on this year's team,” said Jones. “They stepped it up to the challenge, playing against really good teams from the (Capital Valley Conference) league.
“During and after tryouts I knew that we were going to be young and it was going to take some times to get the team playing together. We were not just a young team but we were a new team that has not played together.
The team started 0-1-3 entering CVC play behind the 4-5-1 front to compensate for their young backline.
It wasn’t until the second half of league, when the Wildcats were 2-2-3, when they started clicking as a squad.
“We improved by working on possessing the ball and finishing,” said Jones. “After the second half, obviously, most of the teams in this league improved as well but we always game them a good game
Whitney had their best game versus Roseville April 20 where goals from Shay Valenzano and Alyssa Rapisura against a tough goalie in the Tiger’s Hailey Loughran for the 2-1 victory.
“That gave us momentum for the last four games,” said Jones. “This win will be carry on for next year and my players will have that game in their heads knowing that we could beat any other team if we continue playing like we did at the end of the season.
Cheyenne Foster, after giving up an early goal, shut down the Roseville offense for the rest of that game.
Rapisura had a team high nine goals on the season, as a senior, but behind her was the sophomore Valenzano with five and freshman Sarah Scott who had three in her first year on varsity.
In goal, Jordan Higgins had 34 saves in eight games, Foster had 73 in 15 games and sophomore Brooke Hansen had a strong debut in the second half of the season finale against Antelope after being called up from the Junior Varsity.
All three will be battling for the starting varsity goalie spot in 2016 according to Jones.
Overall, there is positive vibes for 2016.
“Our goal next year is to make playoffs,” said Jones. “Even though we'll be young again we'll have a good core of returning players.”