FC Sacramento Pride a good opportunity for top soccer players

Three Oak Ridge players on the roster
By: Matt Long
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Local college soccer players seeking to stay in game shape and top-notch high school players looking to prepare for the college game have a great opportunity to do those things with the FC Sacramento Pride. The team is one of 51 teams belonging to the Women’s Premier Soccer League, which has geographical divisions throughout the nation. The Pride plays in the Pacific North division with the California Storm, San Francisco Nighthawks, Walnut Creek Power, Seattle Synergy, Portland Rain FC and the Monterey Blues. The Pride is the youngest team in the league with a roster of consisting of about 15 Division I college players, four players competing at the Division II level and about 10 high school players. Because they are the youngest and least experienced team, their win-loss record is the worst in the league at 2 wins, 8 losses and 1 tie, but that’s not what the team is about. “We’re a semi-professional team in a professional league,” team founder and coach Danny Cruz said. “Our players aren’t paid and the team is not fully financed like most of the other teams. We’re the youngest team in the league by far.” Because of the lack of financial backing, the Pride are not competing on a level playing field with the most of the other teams, but once on the pitch, the Pride play their hearts out as they work on their individual skills, as well as learning to play together. At 47 years old, Emily Lawrence is the team’s oldest player, while Kim Hernandez of Galt High School is the team’s youngest at 15. Oak Ridge High has three players on the team, as seniors Geneve Dromensk, Jessica Domenichelli and Amy Hawn have all played in at least five of the team’s 11 games this season. “For the high school girls, playing for the Pride in this league helps prepare them for the college level,” Cruz said. “It gives them confidence to play at a level above their own age group. Some girls can’t take it and quit, but look for the girls with courage.” For Dromensk and Domenichelli, this is their second year playing on the team. “It’s so much more physical than playing in my own age group,” Dromensk said after the team’s 2-1 loss to the Portland Rain FC on Saturday at Promontory Park in El Dorado Hills. “You have to play smarter and it’s more tactical at this level. You have to be less predictable. It’s fun.” Dromensk, a midfielder, has recently returned for soccer camps at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, as she’s working on her skills in the hopes of gaining the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. Domenichelli, a forward, said playing on the Pride has made her a better player. “It’s a good opportunity to learn how to play at the collegiate level,” Domenichelli said. “The speed of play is a lot faster and you have to be smarter. You learn what the really good players do by playing in the league.” As a first year player, Hawn, an outside midfielder, said the experience has been a good one. “It exposes you to a higher level of play and challenges you to play at a different level than you’re used to,” Hawn said. “I definitely think I’ve improved, even after just one game. The pace of the game is faster and you have to think quicker. When I go back and play against players in my own age group, I’m thinking a half-a-second faster than them and that’s how you beat them.” The Pride’s final game of the season is at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Promontory Park in El Dorado Hills against the California Storm.