Solano Community College players, from left to right, Karlie Mast, Michelle Giron, Tara Cooley and Janelle Richards are each transferring to four-year schools to play soccer. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)
ROCKVILLE — Solano Community College women’s soccer coach Jeff Cardinal is used to his players moving on after two years.
Once again, he has a crop of players moving on to play at four-year schools, four this time around.
Karlie Mast, Michelle Giron, Tara Cooley and Janelle Richards all signed letters of intent at a ceremony held in the Solano gym’s lobby, Wednesday.
Cheering them on was former teammate Megan O’Dwyer, who is heading to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for academics only.
“I think it’s important to recognize that accomplishment by having one more event,” Cardinal said. “We have a nice banquet at the end of the year. It’s formal and there are awards to hand out. This is another opportunity to recognize the players transferring on. It means a lot to the players to be recognized for their hard work.”
Mast, a junior midfielder and Giron, a junior outside back. are heading to Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Ore.
Mast, a Napa High graduate, said she chose Northwest Christian because “it’s close to home.”
She made a recruiting visit to a school in Mississippi “and really didn’t like it. I really couldn’t be away from my family that far. It’s a plane ride as opposed to a drive anywhere else.”
Mast also likes Northwest Christian’s location because “it’s right next to the (University of Oregon). My cousin will be attending the U of O, so it’s like we’re attending together. That was a big factor.”
For Giron, an Armijo grad, remaining teammates with Mast was important.
“I’m a really big family person,” Giron said. “Karlie is like family. That made it comfortable going there.”
Giron also likes Northwest Christian’s location. “It’s like it’s in a forest,” she said.
Richards, a junior center midfielder or center defender who’s heading to Cal State San Bernardino, is the most decorated of the four, having been named Bay Valley Conference Player of the Year as a freshman and barely missing a repeat last fall.
“She’s a Division I caliber player playing at the Division II level,” Cardinal said. “She’ll be playing in one of the best conferences in the country at the Division II level.”
Like Mast and Giron, staying on the West Coast was important to Richards.
“I kind of like the location of the school and (because of) my major,” said Richards, a Vacaville graduate. “I’m majoring in kinesiology. . . . I like the coach and everything about it. Mostly the biggest options were out of state, that’s where the big money offers were. I really just wanted to stay in California, where my major was at.”
When asked what she liked best about the CSSB campus, Richards chuckled and said, “I really like the field. That’s a good thing. You have to like that.”
Cooley also prefers competing outdoors, having first gone to San Francisco State after played two years with the Solano women’s basketball team before returning to play one season of soccer in Rockville.
The Dixon grad and center defender may have up to three years of eligibility at Nyack in New York, where she’ll join former Falcons Sandy Garcia and Alexsa Gonzalez.
Cooley said she chose Nyack because “the coach is really nice and I got a pretty good scholarship. There are previous Solano athletes that attended there. That’s definitely nice that they’re there.”
“All four of these girls are very high level college athletes playing at the four-year-level that can do well,” Cardinal said. “They were all big for our program with their commitment to training and work ethic. All these girls know what it means to be committed to the team. You don’t miss practice. Once they got to practice they knew how to train and work hard. Those things help at the four-year level.”
Though she won’t be playing again collegiately, O’Dwyer is grateful for how being a Falcon prepared her for the next level.
“It helped me a lot. Soccer is the reason I came to Solano,” the Vacaville grad said. “It gave me a lot of options. . . . It really motivated me to do well academically.”
Not surprisingly, soccer and her former teammates will be on her mind.
“I’m going to miss it a lot,” she said. “There’s always intramural and club teams, but it’s not going to be the same as a college team. I’m going to miss the girls a lot. I’m not going to know what to do with my time. Study more, I guess.”