(Article taken from the Daily Republic:
By Mike Corpos
ROCKVILLE — If it says something about an athletic program when it sends players on to the next level, then Solano Community College’s soccer program made a statement Wednesday, officially sending seven athletes on to four-year schools.
Falcons head coach Jeff Cardinal gathered five of the seven with their families for a short ceremony to celebrate the various scholarships the players had earned to the next level.
Cardinal said this year’s crop is the largest group he’s ever sent on in his 11 years at the college.
Those moving on include goalkeepers Erica Ramirez (Columbia College, Missouri), and Briana Scholtens (Cal State East Bay), forward Britney Cooper (Columbia College), Jessica Chase (William Jessup), forwards Sandy Garcia and Alexsa Gonzalez (Nyack College, New York) and Barbara Bakh (University of Mary, North Dakota).
Ramirez, Scholtens, Garcia, Gonzalez and Chase were at the ceremony Wednesday.
For Ramirez, an Armijo High graduate, the idea of joining a brand new program at Columbia — this fall will be the school’s first soccer season — was an exciting idea. Joining forces with former rival — Cooper went to Fairfield — makes it even more exciting.
“My options were Sacramento State and Fresno State,” Ramirez said. “Then I got call from this coach in Missouri.”
After film and emails were exchange, Ramirez made her decision.
“Within a week he offered me this opportunity to play with almost a free education,” she said.
Playing with Cooper, who was an All-America selection her last season at Solano, adds a certain level of comfort, too.
“It’s going to be good. We’re confident with each other’s abilities,” Ramirez said.
Garcia and Gonzalez are set to join former Falcon and longtime friend Sabrina Caires at Nyack, making the transition easier on everyone.
“It makes the whole process a lot easier because I have a friend already who’s been there a year and she’s going to show us around and stuff,” Garcia said. “It’s going to be my first time away from my family, but knowing that I have not only people that I know, but people that I know that I can play with on the field (helps).”
Garcia said going into a new team and a new school on her own would be much tougher.
“I’m going with two other players from the team, but we’ve been together since we were like 12 years old, since we were really little,” Gonzalez said. “So Sabrina (Caires) is there, and I just kind of went off what she said.”
She echoed Garcia’s thoughts on having lifelong friends there.
“It’s going to mean a lot to me,” she said. “I’m going to have people out there that’s going through the same thing as me. We’ll all help each other too.”
It’s a toss-up between Chase and Scholtens for who is staying closest to home, a major goal for both in deciding where to go.
“It’s a small, intimate campus, good team, close to home,” Chase said of the Rocklin campus where she’s headed.
It was a very recent decision for here as she heard from William Jessup coaches last week.
“They offered me half the tuition off the bat and I just made up my mind last weekend, so here I am,” she said. “It’s nice because I didn’t know where I was going to go for the longest time. It’s just perfect timing and the perfect place I wasn’t going to pass it up.”
Scholtens signed with CSU East Bay a few months back, but was thrilled to be able to have a moment with her teammates as they prepared to move on.
“All day me and (Gonzalez) — we were texting, talking about how nervous we were,” Scholtens said. “This is a huge step. This is something we’ve talked about since our freshman year. Since the first day we stepped on the field. ‘I can’t wait, we all got to transfer together.’ It was kind of overwhelming that we finally did it.”
The fact that so many athletes are moving on at the same time says a lot about the program at Solano, Scholtens added.
“I think the program is very solid. I think the (reputation) we have helps,” she said.
Cardinal was happy to see his players get the recognition for the accomplishments and to be able to go on and continue playing and finish their education.
“We continue to get those players that come in and they already have a good level (of skills) coming in and we just kind of improve them and we run our program like a four-year college would run it so they get prepare for that, so I think it’s an easy transition when they come from Solano to a four-year program because they’re already experienced in what it’s like to be in a four-year program,” he said. “That’s kind of the No. 1 reason why we’re here and what we’re doing.”