Team edges Marin in shutout

Mariner’s defense capsizes under offensive pressure

By Lorenzo Morotti, editor-in-chief

KENTFIELD — The Comets smuggled a win out of the College of Marin after scoring a lone goal and containing a frantic Mariner offensive during the final minutes of play on Friday.

Contra Costa College (7-5-1 overall, 4-2 in the Bay Valley Conference) controlled the quick momentum of the first half but could not finish any of its six shots on goal.

The Mariners were out-shot 3 to 1 by halftime and accumulated six fouls to CCC’s four in a physical battle for possession.

College of Marin’s (5-4-4 overall, 3-3 in the BVC) positioning and pressure in its defensive third made it difficult for the Comets’ attacking players to find themselves in enough space for a clear shot on goal. 

The game-winning set piece, however, was not prompted until late in the second half when a Mariner fouled Comet midfielder Rafael Torres 35 yards out from goal in left field.

Comet centerback Bradley Alman said, “(COM) didn’t know that we have guys on the team that will make you pay for giving away too many free kicks and we proved that today.”

At 78 minutes, left back Jesus Villagrana set up to take the resulting free kick and delivered an aerial pass toward the far post.

Villagrana said, “I always look for (Alman) because he usually wins the header.”

Alman leapt above two Mariner defenders to header the ball back into the center of the penalty area to assist Navas, who was unmarked by the COM defenders.

“I backed up into the guy behind me and gave the guy in front of me a little shove so I had enough room,” Alman said. “I tried to header (the ball) somewhere in the (penalty area) where I thought someone would be and just so happened that (Navas) was there.”

Navas struck the ball with the inseam of his right foot on a volley from 18 yards out to curve it just out of the Mariner goalkeeper Will Finnie’s reach and into the top right corner of the goal.

The Mariner coach Swap Mushiana said, “We were a bit stretched defensively later in the second half and frustration set in. I told them to watch the fouls but when you’re chasing the game and spread so thin, it’s hard not to (foul).”

By the end of the game, CCC had 11 fouls and was awarded three yellow cards, while the Mariners 17 and two, respectively.

In the first half, substitute Comet striker Bryan Santos saw a collided with Finnie

During the first 15 minutes of the second half, COM produced three goal opportunities. More than it managed to create during the entire first half but were either blocked by substitute goalkeeper Jose Ayala or simply off target.

The Mariners best chance to score came at 50 minutes when they were awarded a foul roughly 30 yards out from goal during a quick counter attack down the left center of the field.

COM striker Jose Martinez took the free kick and rifled a low shot under the wall that was on target but he was denied by the far post and ricocheted out of bounds for a goal kick.

When CCC held the majority of possession, the first half and toward the end of the second, it was when it stretched out the Mariners form through fluid passing plays along the wings.

The Comets short give and go passes, which would explode into long filtered passes into the final third, produced six corner kicks to COM’s two by the final whistle. 

Mushiana said his team held more possession of the ball during the second half and did well to slow down the flow of play but lost focus as the game progressed.

He said frustration began to create a sense of panic when the Mariners were unable to break the Comet defensive backline when they were down 1-0 with only about 10 minutes left and ceded too many turnovers. 

Comet Coach Nikki Ferguson said, “We needed (a win) and we got it, that’s all that matters.”