Last season, the 2012 Cañada College women’s golf team set the bar.
And it’s quite high.
The Colts made history, finishing third at the California state finals and first in Northern California.
But in the beginning stages of this season, there is a squad out there looking to ascend past that lofty bar: The 2013 Cañada team.
“They just want to do better,” said Colts head coach Rick Velasquez. “Their goal is to win state but at least finish better than third and so that’s what they’re striving for. They’re not settling for what they did last year. They want to do better.”
Cañada is off to such a hot start, there’s no reason to believe they won’t make noise come state tournament time.
The Colts are fresh off their fifth Valley Conference win in Fresno — site of the 2013 Northern California Championships later this year. This latest win was a golf clinic with Cañada running away with a 308-424 victory. Overall, the Colts are 6-0 on the year.
“I think the girls are playing pretty consistently,” Velasquez said. “Nobody has been over 100 all year, so that’s nice. Today (Tuesday) they played exceptionally well. They were really focused. They have a lot of experience with golf.”
Experience is the key for the 2013 Cañada team. The Colts return three players from last year’s team and five sophomores overall — including a transfer from Delta College who finished seventh in the state last season and enrolled at Cañada last spring.
“It’s really starting to pay off for them,” Velasquez said of the experience. “Their tournament experience has helped them so much. Coaching this team, we just ask them and check in with them, see what their strengths and weaknesses are and what they need to work on. They have a pretty good idea of what they need to work on. So, that’s really helpful with an experienced team.”
Velasquez said the leadership of Sarah Rotter, Shannon Wong and Michelle Wong can’t be overstated. The trio has brought a great focus to a team with such lofty goals. In particular, Velasquez points to Michelle Wong (San Mateo High School) as a player who has grown tremendously with hard work over the summer.
“I think when you play with more experienced players it helps,” Velasquez said. “I’ve seen a lot of progress with Michelle.”
Also big for Cañada has been Laura Arellano and Rayla Hernandez, both transfers. Arellano is a top 10 finisher in last season’s individual tournament for Delta College.
“They can’t wait to play and they love the game of golf,” Velasquez said. “And that really helps.”
College of San Mateo update
The College of San Mateo women’s water polo team is five matches into the new season and head coach Randy Wright quickly summarized his opinion of his new team: “This is a team that could be scary good,” he said.
For the Bulldogs to instill that fear into the opponents, CSM will need more efforts like the 10-6 win over West Valley rather that a disappointing opener against Delta College.
“The first one was one to forget,” Wright said. “The next four were solid. Tuesday (against Delta) it looked like I had a bunch of freshman who played for different high school teams — no communication — which makes getting a flow very difficult. You play a very physical team and it goes from a little rough to a lot rough. But, it was nice to get that out of the way and open their eyes to what they need to do.”
CSM’s record stands at 2-3 overall, but Wright seemed pleased with the progress and the process. A couple of those losing results were lopsided, sure, but there is always a bigger picture with a team as young as CSM’s.
“The defense is coming together and showing more variety,” Wright said. “And that’s a byproduct of the play in goal. You give me more luxury to do things when the goalie is making those vast improvements. Ashley [Mullany] had a great weekend. She’s making great saves. It’s funny, I told my wife, she asked ‘how’s the goalie?’ And I said, you know what, Tuesday, she looked like she’s just another girl from Terra Nova. But after this weekend, she’s now a CSM Bulldog.”
Mullany’s play is one of the many highlights from a weekend of growth for the Bulldogs. Along with her, Wright pointed to the play of Sinclaire Cheong and her defense, along with the emergence of Shelby Chung.
Still, Wright said the search continues for a goal-scorer with a “killer instinct.” So far, Jasmine Zaldivar and Erica Staben have been consistent scorers. But Wright said he’s looking for someone to pick it up a notch.
“We’ve really made steps in the right direction,” Wright said. “The specifics are so welcomed because that’s how we fine tune this automobile and get us moving in the right direction quicker.”
The CSM cross country teams returns home this week when they host a meet at Crystal Springs.
The Bulldogs are coming off a solid showing at the Lou Vasquez Invitational in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
On the men’s side, Anthony Cortes improved 1:30 from last year’s time to lead the Bulldogs. Matt Rouse, a former Carlmont Scot, was only 16 second behind his teammate. The two spear-headed a ninth-place finish for CSM.
“We’re missing a few people,” said CSM head coach Joe Mangan. “We can still get better.”
The women’s team showed a lot of promise. CSM only raced three, but Megan Guillermo (16th) ran a great, first collegiate race, according to Mangan. Alejandra Marin returned to the sport of cross country after a two-year absence and performed well. And finally, Jordan Chase battled sickness, but still performed well. Once Mei-Lin Okino returns, Mangan said his team has the makings of a solid Coast Conference and NorCal contender.
“It’s hard to tell with difference courses,” Mangan said when asked what improvements he’d like to see for this week’s meet. “I’d like them to move up. I’d like to see them have a good transition from what I deem to be a flatter course to a hillier course and actually moving up that way. Crystal Springs to me is one of the real challenges when it comes to cross country.”