State titles lead to Athlete of the Month honors for Rodriguez, Bando

State titles lead to Athlete of the Month honors for Rodriguez, Bando

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A team title and an individual state championship were the common denominators for Fresno City College men's soccer standout Johnny Rodriguez and Sierra College women's golfer Nao Bando, who were named the California Community College Sports Information Association Male and Female Athletes of the Month for November.

Rodriguez, a sophomore for the Rams, helped Fresno City claim its first-ever California Community College Athletic Association championship at American River College. His play throughout November and the first couple of days in December led the Rams to the top seed in the Northern California Regional Playoffs and their subsequent state championship. Rodriguez scored the Rams' first goal in the championship game and was heavily defended throughout the weekend. He finished with four goals and a pair of assists during the month and was recently named the United States Soccer Coaches Association National Player of the Year.

Bando, also a sophomore, claimed medalist honors at the women's golf state championship at Morro Bay Golf Course on the Central Coast in November after also winning the Northern California Regional title. She posted a 3-under 141 at Morro Bay and was the only player at the state championship to card rounds below par each day. She went 3-under 141, which included a first-round 68, during her regional win. Bando, who was runner-up a year ago for the state champion Wolves, led Sierra to a second-place finish this season.

Listed below are recaps for the month for both the winners and honorable mention selections.

November Female Athlete of the Month
Nao Bando | SO | Golf | Sierra College
Nao Bando capped off her community college career by going out as the "undisputed" top player in the state. Bando, who tied for medalist honors at the 2016 women's golf state championship with a 3-under-par 141, only to lose top-honors in a card-off, bounced right back during the 2017 season.  During the month of November, she posted a 3-under-par 141 (68-73) to win the CCCAA Northern California Regional Championship individual title on the Buena Vista Golf Course (par 72) in Taft, helping her Sierra College team take the NorCal title by 20 strokes over runner-up Modesto. One week later she was at the top of the leaderboard again, posting another 3-under-par 141 (71-70) to run away with individual medalist honors at the CCCAA state championship held at the Morro Bay Golf Course (par 72). She was the only player at the state championship to finish below par in both rounds, edging out Hannah Lovering (Reedley College) and Vanessa Watkins (Santa Barbara City College), who each had one round under par on the way to 1-over-par 145's. Bando's Sierra team finished as state runner-up, finishing four strokes behind champion Modesto Junior College.

November Male Athlete of the Month
Johnny Rodriguez | SO | Soccer | Fresno City College
Johnny Rodriguez led the Rams in scoring in November with four goals and a pair of assists (in five games). The Fresno City College sophomore, helped the Rams to the No. 1 seed in the CCCAA Northern California Regional Playoffs, and eventually to their first state championship. Rodriguez was voted state tournament MVP. Rodriguez scored the first goal in the final and was heavily defended by at least one player in both games of the CCCAA Men’s Soccer State Championships. In addition to all of his individual accomplishments, Rodriguez was voted the United States' Soccer Coaches Association National Player of the Year.

Honorable Mention - Women
Olivia Aguilar | SO | Volleyball | Irvine Valley College
Sophomore outside hitter Olivia Aguilar led Irvine Valley to the second CCCAA Women's Volleyball State Championship in program history. She recorded double-digit kills in 26 of IVC's 27 matches, including a state final record 30 in the state championship match against San Joaquin Delta College on Dec. 3.

Riana Castaneda | SO | Soccer | Fresno City College
Castaneda allowed just two goals in five postseason games, and just three goals in eight games to cap the season, as Fresno City won the CCCAA Women's Soccer Championship. Castaneda was selected the CCCAA Championship Tournament MVP after getting a key penalty kick save in the championship match against previously unbeaten Santa Barbara City College.

Amilya Thompson | FR | Volleyball | San Joaquin Delta College
Thompson led the Mustangs to the state final as the North's original No. 5 seed finished No. 2 in state, losing to Irvine Valley in the title match. Delta upset Cabrillo, rallying from two sets down to upset the Seahawks in five games.  Thompson averaged 19.4 kills and 16.8 digs in five playoff matches.

Honorable Mention- Men
Rajae Johnson | FR | Football | College of San Mateo
Johnson proved why he was one of the most explosive playmakers in the CCCAA in 2017, catching 17 passes for 523 yards and five TD’s in four games in November. San Mateo was undefeated in the month, including a pair of wins over College of the Siskiyous and American River College in the NCFC Playoffs.

Lachlan Trabinger | SO | Water Polo | Golden West College
Trabinger was the 2017 MVP at the CCCAA state water polo tournament after kick-starting a three-goal run for Golden West College in the last period of the final against West Valley. That surge helped secure the Rustlers' 25th CCCAA title.