By Matt Schwab, Small College Sports Columnist
Senior Breanna Baker has been a blueprint center back for the young Cal State East Bay women's soccer team.
And Pioneers coach Amy Gerace is going to miss her when she graduates.
"Four-year starter, two-year captain, a true anchor for the defense," Gerace said of the former Newark Memorial High star. "She's one of the top defenders in the conference -- a great team leader."
Baker soon will exit a program that appears healthy, even if wins are proving hard to come by in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
"We're doing pretty well," Gerace said. "We're still trying to find our way in the CCAA. We're actually fairly young. We only start three seniors, one of them obviously being Bre, so it's a team that's up and coming. But players like Bre are going to be really difficult to replace next year."
The Pioneers (5-10-1, 4-9-1 CCAA) close the season at home against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday and Cal State Los Angeles on Sunday. The season took a downturn last week with losses to Chico State (4-1) and Cal State Stanislaus (4-0).
Junior Nina Cefalo (Foothill High) starts in goal for the Pioneers. Eugenie Foote (College Park, Humboldt State) has a team-high five goals -- one more than Ariana Nobrega (California). Freshman Ariana Gordon (Heritage) is tied for third on the team with three goals.
Senior Tenaya Davis (Washington) is another mainstay defender.
Described by Gerace as dynamite in the air extremely stron and dynamic, Baker is a factor in both penalty areas. She set up a goal by Carly Genzolil against Chico State on Friday after scoring her first goal of the year in a 3-0 win over Cal State Monterey Bay on Oct. 9.
Baker, who switched from outside midfielder to central defender as a sophomore, dishes off plenty of credit to Gerace for her progress.
"We've had great communication throughout the four years," Baker said. "We've had a good coach-player kind of a bond. She's taught me a lot."READ ARTICLE ON BAY AREA NEWS GROUP WEB SITE