With last year’s varsity women’s soccer team winning it all, this year’s team hopes to match their accomplishments. However, winning the third straight section title.
The three-peat would be crucial, as it would guarantee promotion to Division II for next season.
Three-year varsity starters Emily Hansen and Elizabeth Hutchison set their high school soccer goals going into freshman year.
“We want to win D-III sections our freshman through junior years and then win D-II for our senior year,” said Hutchison.
Before they start thinking about winning a championship, the Raiders must work out team chemistry and get a few games under their belts.
Head coach Jennifer Smiley has brought forward many new players to the team, including three freshman.
The returning five seniors have every intention of upholding their section title from last year.
Senior Meloria Hoskins is a two year varsity player who strives for success.
“Our team is very young this year but we have some good skill and speed so hopefully we will be able to make it to the section championship game and pull out the win,” said Hoskins.
Rio opened up the season with a home game against Oakmont. Despite the inexperience of many players, the Raiders prevailed 2-0.
The team play was incredible, especially for a team that is yet to make its final cuts.
The attack was run primarily through UC Irvine-bound junior Elizabeth Hutchison.
The defense is led by junior Emily Hansen, who is committed on scholarship to Cal Poly. Both players have started on varsity since their freshman years.
The second game, against rival St. Francis, was much more of a struggle. The game ended in a scoreless draw.
Neither team really seemed to find its groove and scoring chances were rare.
The Raiders’ best chance of the game came through a 30-yard shot from Hutchison that curved just over the crossbar.
Shortly after, the Troubadours failed to finish when the ball was bouncing around in the box, only for the ball to be snatched up by junior goalkeeper Julia Hildebrand.
Their first games of the season, which are part of pre-season play, help prepare the ladies for their first league game of the season against Rio’s deepest rival, the El Camino Eagles.
The game against the Eagles is set for Mar. 22 at their nest.
With expectations at an all time high, the women need to play to the expectations that the title “defending champs” entails.
“We’re a pretty young team this year but it’s evident in practice that we have a lot of potential and will be a strong team,” said senior Lindsay Richardson. “We’re also a pretty competitive group.”
There will be no shortage of stiff competition in a league that features several premier teams, including Antelope, who lost to the Raiders in the section final last year, and rivals El Camino.
Although Rio has gotten off to a decent start, they will be looking to improve before league and later on for playoffs.
Nothing less will be expected from a team that has managed to send multiple players to college programs while winning back to back section titles.