After rocketing to a 10-0-1 record to begin the year, the Central Valley Bears are in prime position to complete their second consecutive undefeated regular season.
First-year head coach Rob Rowe champions the “One game at a time” motto.
But it’s important to keep a team that is expected to win every time it steps onto the pitch levelheaded, especially for the Bears, who have only lost once in their past 29 games.
After their 2-1 win over Lewis and Clark Wednesday night, three games remain on the Bears’ schedule. Starting on Friday against Mt. Spokane, the Bears will play three games in seven days.
The final game of the regular season is Oct. 19 against North Central. Sandwiched between the two will be the most anticipated game of the season – everyone in the league will be keen to see the outcome.
Gonzaga Prep – which dropped its first league game 2-1 Wednesday night at Mead – head to CV on Wednesday with the league crown possibly on the line.
If all goes as planned, the Bears will wrap up their regular season the way they did last season – with a Greater Spokane League title in hand.
Rowe took over a CV squad that lost three starters but retained both league offensive and defensive MVPs, as well as many senior leaders – 10 of 18 players on the roster.
Forward Maggie Ames and centerback/holding midfielder Alyssa Molina are three-year starters who parlayed their strong junior years into impressive showings this season.
Ames is bound for Concordia University in Portland, as is senior forward Kailyn LaBrosse. Molina is college-bound, but undecided on where she’s going.
“They are just amazing players,” Rowe said. “They are still, in my eyes, two of the best in their positions in the league.”
Senior Marissa Bankey, a Seattle Pacific commit, has returned from a broken leg, which ended her junior year.
“She has done phenomenal, as well,” Rowe said. “She just is solid in all aspects of her game, and she controls the middle of the field for us. If she has a free kick on the ball, she is probably going to score 80 percent of the time.”
One of the huge holes that needed to be filled was when University of Alabama-bound goalkeeper AJ Crooks went down with an injury. After giving up only 12 goals in 19 games, CV needed a keeper for the 2018 season.
Junior Drew Scott and sophomore Clair Kaufman have split time minding the net this year. Through 11 games, the Bears have allowed 10 goals.
“You don’t replace a player like AJ, but individually each of our keepers have done a great job,” Rowe said. “They definitely have some things to work on and we have been doing that each game and in practices.”
Mead and G-Prep have one GSL loss apiece, although G-Prep has one more point. University is in fourth place at 4-2.
“Mead is a quality squad, and University I think has surprised some teams, and of course Gonzaga (Prep) – I would put ourselves up there as well,” Rowe said.