Most Viewed Stories
River Valley soccer tops Marysville
Stanhope takes over Falcons' program, sets high goals for season
A week and a half ago, Jeff Stanhope was on the Sutter High sideline coaching the Huskies' girls soccer team to an unprecedented ninth consecutive Northern Section championship.
On Tuesday, he was patrolling the sidelines again — this time as River Valley's coach — where he is hoping to bring the same success he's had at Sutter to a Falcon program that has yet to post a winning season in its six-year existence.
And so far, they're off to a good start.
With a 2-0 victory over Marysville at Marks Field, the Falcons improved to 5-3 on the young season, already besting the win total from the previous two years when they went a combined 4-30-4.
While ball handling, passing and teamwork will no doubt be the keys to winning games for the Falcons this season, for Stanhope, it all begins with one simple element of the game — hustle.
"It's a work in progress, but the girls are working hard," he said. "It's a new system, new coaching staff and new philosophy. We're just trying to pick up the hard work because hard work beats teams.
"We're trying to get the program headed in the right direction and we have five wins so far this year so we're headed there."
Engaged in a scoreless deadlock at halftime, the Falcons broke things open in the second half when Karinna Recendez scored off an assist from Yesenia Martinez in the 45th minute.
Recendez also assisted Morgan McIntyre for a goal in the 54th minute to put the Falcons up 2-0 and their defense held the lead until the final whistle.
Marysville (2-4) had its chances, but just missed on two scoring opportunities in the opening half.
The first came in the 19th minute when Marimar Terriquez hit the right post from 12 yards out, and the second came in the 21st minute when a header by Alondra Lomeli also clanked off the right post.
Nevertheless, second-year coach Dallas McBride likes the aggressive attitude he's seeing from his team.
"They're doing well. Today was just one of those days where they put it in the net and we put it on the post," McBride said. "The good thing is we're playing hard and physical, and that's what we need."
McBride praised the strong defensive play of Taylor Anderson and Ellie Fisher on the backline, while sophomore goalkeeper Makaylan Ferris shined in goal by making 14 saves, three of which were spectacular diving stops.
As for the Falcons, Stanhope is not shying away from setting the bar high in his first season.
With assistant Abel Franco, who led River Valley's boys team to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship this fall, Stanhope feels he has the coaching staff as well as the players to contend for a Tri-County Conference title this year.
That would be quite the reversal for a program that has compiled a 22-71-10 record since beginning play in the spring of 2007. RV's lone postseason berth came in 2009 — a 4-0 loss in the first round.
"This was the first time I've had tryouts and having a JV team is a new experience for me, but I'm up for the challenge," said Stanhope, who noted the defensive play of Jazzmyne Garcia at sweeper and Lizzie Milner at midfield on Tuesday. "We've set the goal of winning league. If you don't set high goals, you can't reach for them and I feel we have the girls to do it. It's all about them believing in themselves."