Clovis, Fresno City women take unbeaten streaks into soccer showdown

The past two months have been a whirlwind by for Orlando Ramirez and his first-year Clovis Community College women’s soccer team.

Ramirez was hired two weeks before the season started, leaving him little time to recruit a full team.

But it worked out, and during the past six weeks the Crush has been steadily improving while laying the groundwork for years to come.

“We started with about eight girls on the first day and slowly, but surely, more started trickling in,” Ramirez said. “We have 19 on the roster now. For me, we can work with 19. We can do that.”

The Crush is unbeaten in its past seven matches. Five are ties, but all of those came on the road in a further sign of resilience.

“We all had that eagerness to get things going,” Ramirez said. “We had nothing to lose, and we were excited for what’s to come.”

The Crush (2-1-5) will play its first game against local rival Fresno City (7-2-1) in a Central Valley Conference opener. The host Rams are unbeaten in their past six matches, including three straight wins. Kickoff is 4 p.m.

For Crush sophomore forward Branisia Sproule, the match will provide a key measure of the program’s progress.

“Fresno is our bar. That’s where we want to be,” said Sproule, who played one season for the Rams in 2010 before taking a few years off to deal with injuries and become a mom. “It feels like the game of the century.”

Fresno City coach Oliver Germond told his players to prepare for Clovis as if it were any other match, rather than the potential start of a rivalry.

“Every game is important to us, not just CVC,” he said, with each result factoring in the power rankings that determine playoff seedings.

The Rams are No. 2 in the state at 2.5350, with Rio Hondo leading at 2.6875.

“We respect our opponents, but we’re taking it like every other game,” Germond said. “Our main focus is just to get better every day.”

Rams men stay unbeaten – The Fresno City’s men’s team maintained its unbeaten CVC start Tuesday, shutting out visiting Sequoias 2-0.

Sophomore attacking midfielder Noe Prieto put the Rams ahead in the 17th minute, and in the second half drew a foul in the penalty box that defender Andres Rios converted. The Rams are 9-0-3 overall and 2-0-1 in the conference.

The Giants saw a three-match unbeaten streak end, falling to 5-3-1 and 1-1-1.

Fresno City, No. 1 in the men’s power rankings at 2.4042, with De Anza second at 2.4000, continues its season Oct. 11 at Modesto. COS hosts Taft at 4 p.m. Friday.

Bulldog earns MW honor – Fresno State sophomore goalie Marie Berwinkel-Kottman was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, collecting 13 saves in a 3-0 shutout of New Mexico and 1-1 draw against San Diego State over the weekend.

The draw against the Aztecs was Berwinkel-Kottman’s first start. She made a career-high seven saves in that match, including three in the second half as the Bulldogs forced overtime. She is the third Fresno State player to earn a player of the week honor this season.

Chica gets first hat trick – Visalia native and El Diamante High grad Joey Chica netted his first career hat trick and added an assist in Cal State Dominguez’s 4-0 rout of Cal State Monterey Bay on Sunday.

Chica, who spent the summer playing with the Premier Development League’s Fresno Fuego, leads the NCAA Division II 20th-ranked Toros (7-3-1, 4-1 California Collegiate Athletic Association) with 10 goals and four assists.

Last game with Sac – Elliot Hord and Christian Chaney saw short stints with Sacramento Republic FC end in Wednesday’s exhibition against Chivas de Guadalajara at Bonney Field.

Hord started at left back; Chaney entered in the 55th minute as Republic FC and Chivas drew 1-1.

In August, the two Fuego standouts signed with Sacramento for the remainder of the USL season, which wrapped up Saturday in a first-round playoff loss to the Orange County Blues.

Sacramento and Orange County went scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 in overtime before the Blues won 5-4 on penalties.

Hord, who played the full 120 minutes against the Blues, made six appearances in all for Sacramento, including five starts. Chaney, the Premier Development League’s top prospect after scoring 13 goals for the Fuego, did not appear in any USL matches. Chaney did play in an exhibition for the San Jose Earthquakes, who signed him on a one-day loan for the match against Pachuca. He came on in the 85th minute.

Fuego-Fresno State exhibition – The Fuego will play the Fresno State men’s soccer club in an Oct. 28 exhibition at Chukchansi Park. Kickoff is 7 p.m. The Fuego has partnered with Susan G. Komen Central Valley and will wear pink jerseys in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Match-worn jerseys will be available to purchase through a silent auction, with proceeds going to Komen Central Valley. Tickets are $6 to $11 and available beginning Friday at bit.ly/FuegoTickets.

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