Comets unable to find rhythm

Wasted scoring chances lead to close home loss

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

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Both teams came in riding winning streaks but only one would be able to continue the trend, as Mendocino College (10-1-2 overall, 4-0 in the Bay Valley Conference) was able to knock off the Comets 1-0 Friday on the Soccer Field.

Contra Costa College (6-4-1 overall 3-1 BVC) controlled the ball at the whistle and was the more physical group to start the game.

The Eagles used passing and crisp execution to position themselves for shots, but the trio of CCC defenders, including Nicolas Bob, Charlie Mendoza and Brad Alman, rarely let the shots get through for goalie Stephane Vanier to even attempt a save.

The teams were evenly matched. Fifteen minutes into the game, the Comets had their first scoring opportunity ruined by an offside call at 25:13. CCC forward Bryan Santos had his first good look at a goal, only to become the first of many shots defended by Eagle goalie Cesar Mendoza.

Mendocino’s coach was aware of the Comets’ team speed, using over a dozen substitutions in the first half to keep fresh men in the game. After both teams worked up a good lather, the match became a passing and defensive clinic.

Throughout the first half, Bob literally headed off any long passes the Eagles tried in attempts at bypassing the Comet defensive stalwart.

At the break the score was knotted at 0-0.

The second half was a continuation of the defensive struggle. CCC’s aggressive offensive style earned the Comets three offside penalties after the intermission.

“We had a ton of set pieces and corners, but we didn’t put them away,” Comet coach Nikki Ferguson said. “When we had our chances we didn’t capitalize.”

Forward Kevin Navas, along with Alman, had good attempts at filling the net but those attempts were thwarted by the Eagles’ goalie Mendoza, who spent most of the afternoon frantically stopping all shots on goal.

At 80 minutes in, Mendocino midfielder Lupe Hernandez made a cross pass to fellow midfielder Segura Oswaldo. Oswaldo dribbled through the middle of CCC’s defense for a head on shot that found the back of the net.

“The center-mid beat us up the field,” Bob said. “They got one opportunity and took full advantage of it.”

The final minutes saw a frenzied Comet squad make a concerted push to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. CCC controlled the action from the time Mendocino scored until the final Alman header was corralled by the Eagle goalie.

Ferguson applauded his team’s tenacity and effort to close the game, but reminded his squad that they need to, “Start at a high level and play that way until the end, not just when your backs are against the wall.”

The Comets look to start a new winning streak against the Mariners at College of Marin on Friday at 4 p.m.

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