Despite effort, fires incinerate chance at title

By Efrain Valdez, Sports Editor

Despite beating a number of California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) powerhouse soccer teams like Las Positas College and City College of San Francisco, the soccer team (7-7-4 overall and 3-2-2 in the Bay Valley Conference) was robbed of the opportunity of a state playoff run.

While the Camp Fire ravaged the city of Paradise and the surrounding communities, the smoke from the fire took a toll on air quality in the Bay Area.

That resulted in the team not being able to play their last BVC game against Merritt College due to game cancellations before the regional playoff seeding meeting.

Comet coach Nikki Ferguson said his team was on a roll at the end of the season despite having a stretch during the middle portion when the team lost or drew in five out of six matches.

“Tying against the state champions (Fresno City College), first game of the season was huge. After that, we were dealing with injuries and despite that, we were accomplishing things that we had never accomplished before,” he said.

Those good results against the powerhouse teams, while battling injuries, cemented the idea that CCC was becoming a powerhouse team and could make a deep playoff run.

When CCC was denied the opportunity to make up the final game against Merritt, it made the team regret not getting some crucial results earlier in the season.

“It was unfair that we couldn’t play the last game, but we should have got a better result against Merritt the first time, so we wouldn’t be in that situation,” Comet defender Raul Garcia said.

Ferguson said that the team came into conference play with injuries, but at the midpoint of the BVC schedule, the team was healthy and playing with confidence.

“We were actually healthy. We had a two-week break, got healthy, gained some momentum and the results started to come,” he said.

During the final four games of the season, CCC won three out of four games and into position for a championship clincher against Merritt.

“I felt the situation could have been handled better,” Comet goalkeeper Salvador Rodriguez said about being denied the chance to play in an important game.

For CCC, not making the playoffs was a bitter moment because the team believed they could make a run based on powerful performances against top teams all year.

The Comets knew that they had put a lot of teams on notice throughout the state with their clutch performances.

“The funny thing is, going into the seeding meeting everyone knew we were out. Being friends and colleagues at the same time, they were happy that we were not in (the playoffs) because they knew we were a danger to anybody we played against,” Ferguson said.

Since Ferguson has been at the helm of the squad, he’s instilled an offensive, modern style of soccer, which lifted the level of competition on the team.

“This generation of players, like the modern game and they come in a little savvier than players in the past,” Ferguson said.

He said that this crop of players understands the simple tactics of the game.

“We’ve always had good players, but not all of them have played with a purpose,” Ferguson said.

The Comets were able to succeed with venomous offensive play because this past season was deeper than any team in the past. .

“The intellect that they have as players has made it easier on me and them when making adjustments,” Ferguson said.