Women’s Raiders Soccer rank No. 2 in U.S.

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Photo By Ryan Burns

Senior Meloria Hoskins takes on the Mira Loma defense. The Raiders won 6-0 to maintain their no. 2 national ranking.

Ryan Burns, Sports Editor

Rio’s women’s soccer team is ranked second in the nation. In the entire country, the Lady Raiders are the second best team.

The national praise is nothing new for the two-time reigning section champions, though.

They finished last year in the top ten teams after defeating fellow CAL competitor Antelope.

Coming into this year, the returning players would definitely miss some of the graduated seniors. The top goal scorer, Alexa Heinzer, graduated, so there was a gap to fill.

That task has been no problem to this year’s squad. Captains Elizabeth Hutchison and Meloria Hoskins have accepted the challenge of increasing their contributions to the goal scoring and are leading the team in goals with five and three goals respectively.

Freshman striker Katelyn Chandler has burst onto the scene with two goals and four assists, too.

Chandler is one of a few freshmen who have already made their impact on the varsity level. Caroline Kaniff and Annie Ware are the others, and have already fought their way into the lineup.

The obvious talent on the squad is complemented by a great team chemistry that is shown on the field with a fluid and crisp pass and move style.

“To be second in the nation is quite an accomplishment and I wouldn’t want to experience it with anyone else,” said senior striker Elizabeth Moulton, who has scored two goals this season.

After two ties in tough preseason games against St. Francis and Bella Vista, the Raiders dominated in their signature 3-0 victory against Davis.

Rio has already risen above its league competition with victories against rival El Camino, Cordova, Whitney, and Mira Loma.

The road game against El Camino was a tough one, but the Raiders pulled off a well-earned 2-1 win.

The next game was a simpler task against Cordova. Rio swept aside the Lancers in a commanding 6-0 victory.

After a tough road win against Whitney, the Lady Raiders looked to defend their home turf against Mira Loma.

They did so in dominant fashion through a balanced attack. At halftime, Rio was already winning 3-0 with goals coming from Kaniff, Hoskins and Hutchison.

Hoskins scored a beautifully floated header across goal over the Mira Loma goalkeeper’s outreached arms. Kaniff and Hutchison both scored their goals from well worked attacks finished with individual runs of skill followed by clinical finishes.

The Raiders showed up in full force to remain atop the league standings at a perfect 4-0, already showing postseason form that has been good enough for a section title in each of the last two years.

The team needs to stay on the track that has already catapulted it to the no. 2 ranking in the nation. They plan to do so while having a good time dispatching opponent after opponent for the next month or so.

“These girls are so much fun to be around and play with, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us,” Moulton said.

Who knows. Maybe the Lady Raiders can be crowned the best team in the country.

All individual stats are prior to the Mira Loma game.

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