Painting a picture perfect performance on the pitch is never easy. Slowly but surely the Bruins are putting the building blocks together as they integrate an infusion of fresh faces. Gone from last season’s CCS winning roster were six graduating seniors and two juniors who are no longer with the team. That hasn’t kept the Bruins from starting strong this year. A 1-0 victory over Scotts Valley Tuesday night improved their preseason record to 3-0-1.
“We worked hard, but there are definitely things we need to work on,” chimed senior midfielder and captain Zulley Lopez. “We need to keep up the intensity the whole game, but we did communicate well. It has been a big adjustment from last season because we’ve all come from different teams and styles. We’re still trying to get used to each other. This team definitely has the potential to get better, just a matter of time and practice.”
“I guarantee you, that girl ran like seven or eight miles tonight at full sprint,” remarked Bruins Head Coach Brad Comstock on Lopez. “You talk about someone who doesn’t get tired. That is the toughest spot on the field in this game, she was playing [Scotts Valley’s] power side.”
The game’s lone goal came in the 23rd minute when senior Frida Ramirez jumped up from her back line spot and worked a nice give-and-go play with forward Alisa Bontrager. The freshman used her left foot from just outside the 18-yard box to curl a shot over the keeper’s outstretched arm and into the far-side, top-corner of the net.
“She’s gonna be my next Ellie [Mujushi],” noted coach Comstock on Bontrager. “She is someone who by the time she is a senior will have a scholarship somewhere to play soccer.”
Mujushi was Santa Clara’s leading goal scorer last year as a senior and now plays collegiately at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. Certainly high praise for a freshman in Bontrager to be compared to Mujushi.
The high praise for first year high school players didn’t end there. On the back line, centerback Jordan Lesnick has been taking the set pieces in the absence of injured senior Ysela Baluyot. Lesnick and fellow freshman centerback Analicia Bonelli looked like a strong duo against Scotts Valley.
“I thought maybe one of the older girls would get the opportunities on set pieces, but Brad has been letting me take them while Ysela recovers,” noted Lesnick. “I’m the person on my club team who has been the one regularly controlling the back line, so I think that experience has helped in terms of Brad trusting me in those situations.”
While Lesnick was shining with clearances and set-piece opportunities, it was Bonelli showing off her athleticism, using her long stride to close gaps on opposing forwards.
“She’s just like Haley [Levene],” chuckled coach Comstock on Bonelli. “[Assistant coach] Graham [Hampton] and I saw her play and looked at each other and were like, ‘ok wow, that’s another Haley,’ which is a great thing.”
The true test for the Bruins will be league season coming up in January, but thus far things certainly seem to be on a path forward with coach Comstock already comparing multiple freshmen to standout seniors from last season’s CCS Championship team.
Santa Clara will next play on Saturday as they get to take on Presentation inside Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes.