Historic start for Cuesta program

Cougars led by nucleus of North County players

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Cuesta College women’s soccer team is off to their best start in program history largely impart to an influx of talent from the North Country region of the Central Coast.

The Cougars began the season 5-0 and are now 6-1 after losing their first game on Sept. 14. Cuesta currently has a mixture of seven former Greyhounds, Eagles and Bearcats on their team that all contribute in meaningful ways.

Four of the girls are from Atascadero in Brenae Damery, Serena Ramirez, Casey Dempsey and Alley Andrade. Two of the girls are from Paso Robles in Sydnie Esser and Drea Mendoza and the lone Templeton Eagle is Mackenzie Wilson.

The Cuesta team is young this year with only seven sophomores on a team of 19 players. One of the Cougars’ strongest freshman players is Ramirez, who helped lead the Hounds to an 18-5-1 record last year and earned first-team all-league honors as a senior and second-team all-league honors as a junior.

Last week Ramirez scored Cuesta’s game-tying and winning goals on Tuesday against Reedley and recorded both assists on the Cougars only two goals in the loss on Friday to West Hills College in Lemoore.

“Coming in as a freshman the team was really welcoming,” Ramirez said. “Just the returners, they were really nice and I think right away we knew that we had some good chemistry.”

The Cougars started the season off about as hot as a soccer team can with a 7-1 victory of Skyline, where Ramirez and Esser each scored two goals, and have continued the incredible offensive pace, scoring four or more goals in four of their seven games this season.   

“I think we expected to be OK,” Ramirez said. “Because we knew how we played and everyone was good, but I don’t think we expected to be that good though because we won our first game like 8-1 or 8-0 or something.”

Esser plays forward for the Cougars and is integral to all they do on offense. Esser is strong on the ball often holding it while the midfield catches up and has already scored seven goals this season including the teams only hat trick that came against Monterey Peninsula.

“Last year, we just didn’t have the same chemistry that we do this year,” Esser said. “There was a lot of different personalities and different things happening, but this year I feel more confident with all of us together, we all kind of work well together.”

This year’s team has already doubled the win total from last year, even though the Cougars landed five girls on the 2017 All-Western State Conference, they finished the season at 3-13-2.

“If you were to ask me that last year, [if she would recommend junior college soccer to girls around the area] I probably would have said no,” Wilson said. “But this year has been really refreshing and it has made me fall in love with soccer all over again. So yes, for any locals I tell them to come on in.”

Wilson scored the Cougars’ go-ahead goal in their home game on Tuesday against College of the Sequoia in Visalia and sent the crowd and her teammates into a frenzy that suggested there was more to the story. Wilson’s goal came when a shot from one of her teammates bounced off the post and right to her feet at the six-yard box at which point she powered it into the upper corner of the goal.

“I’ve had some problems with being right at the top of the six-yard line,” Wilson said. “And having no one behind me, just me and the keeper, and just shanking it. So, my coaches have been talking to me and told me to control myself so once I got that ball I was like, ‘OK, just a little tap,’ but, I mean, it was firm. It made me feel really good like I’m back in it.”

The Cougars begin league play on Oct. 9 when they travel to Moorpark and will have their first home league game of the year on Oct. 12 when they welcome the Hancock Bulldogs to town.


© 2019-Paso Robles Press

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