Fierce contest ends in stalemate

Men's soccer team tests ability, competition in non conference game

Comet+midfielder+Cristian+Garibay+screens+Hawk+midfielder+James+Dawes+off+the+ball+during+CCC%E2%80%99s+1-1+draw+against++Evergreen+Valley+College+at+the+Soccer+Field+on+Saturday.

Cody Casares / The Advocate

Comet midfielder Cristian Garibay screens Hawk midfielder James Dawes off the ball during CCC’s 1-1 draw against Evergreen Valley College at the Soccer Field on Saturday.

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

After scoring a goal early in the second half, the men’s soccer team’s defensive shape closed space and withstood a focused Hawk offensive to cling to a 1-1 tie until the closing minutes of the game.

In its second match of the 2015-16 season Contra Costa College (1-0-1 overall) struggled in keeping possession and mostly chased the flow of play until a counter attack two minutes into the second half that ended with Comet striker Pedro Rodriguez rifling in a goal from 18 yards out.

Evergreen Valley College’s (0-0-1 overall) off the ball pressure, however, closed up passing options in the midfield and forced Comet turnovers that led to conceding a corner kick and a subsequent tap-in goal by Hawk striker Leo Aquirre 18 minutes into the first half.

“We were down 1-0 and were fortunate to be able to equalize, but I think our defense did well to hold off a couple chances (EVC) had (to score) toward the end,” Comet coach Nikki Ferguson said. “A draw is a good result for us, considering we were playing against one of the top ranked teams in the state.”

It was the Hawks, however, that had more scoring opportunities, ending the game with 12 shots to CCC’s eight.

EVC also had the best chance at smuggling three points out of the Soccer Field, but was denied by Comet goalkeeper Eduardo Escamilla who made a reflex save during a one-on-one scoring situation with only five minutes remaining in the game on Friday.

A Comet turnover in the midfield sparked six-foot-two EVC forward Salifu Jatta to sprint into space behind the out of position CCC center backs to receive a lob pass 20-yards out from goal.

Jatta was able to control the ball mid-stride but was fouled by Comet wingback Benjamin Reiter and a free kick was awarded.

Hawk midfielder Juan Torres tried to power his strike into goal but the ball deflected off the makeshift wall of baby blue uniforms and back out in between the half circle and midfield.

Torres recovered the ball, glanced up and sent a diagonal ground pass toward the right side of the penalty area to center attacking midfielder Louis Bellido who was sprinting toward the endline, just outside the near post, to receive the ball.

Reiter scrambled his way out of position to intercept the quick pass and stop the play, but he mistimed his slide and missed the ball by inches.

“I made a mistake,” Reiter said. “I came off my feet when I shouldn’t have. But lucky for me the keeper made a huge save — it was the most important play of the game.”

Escamilla said he instinctively rushed out toward Bellido after seeing Reiter go to ground.

“In one on one situations a goalkeeper cannot wait. You have to attack the ball because you don’t want to give the striker time or space to think about where he can shoot,” Escamilla said. “Then I cut off (Bellido’s) angle to the near post with my right hand to force his shot to the left and was able to stick my leg out quick enough to block (the ball).”

He ended the game with ten saves.

One on one situations like these however were rare during the game as both teams’ defensive lines forced most of the shots taken to come from outside the penalty area.

CCC was the only team to find the back of the net from this distance when a counter attack developed in the midfield.

Comet right attacking winger Hugo Hernandez found space along the sideline and cut inward with a burst of speed before releasing a diagonal pass toward the center of the penalty area to CCC striker Bryan Vega, who was being shadowed by a Hawk center back.

Vega said the pass deflected off both of them before settling at the edge of the penalty area, spinning in place.

“So when I saw that (Rodriguez) was in better position to take the shot I decided to screen the defender behind me instead of going for the ball,” Vega said. “Once we put that (ball) in (the net) we woke up.”

Rodriguez rushed in to smash a right-footed first touch shot into the bottom right corner of the goal past fully outstretched Hawk goalkeeper Ian Valdivia.

While Vega said a tie was a good result, the Comets will not be satisfied until they take what they learned form this game and analyze it before they play at Modesto City College on Friday at 4 p.m.