Comets cede late set-piece goal to lose against Coyotes

Men’s soccer team tied for second place in conference after home loss


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

Coyote midfielder Daniel Valdez (left) shields Comet striker Bryan Vega (right) from the ball during Contra Costa College’s 3-1 loss to Lake Tahoe Community College on Friday at the Soccer Field.

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

The men’s soccer team ceded a late goal off a Lake Tahoe Community College corner kick on Friday at the Soccer Field and now faces consecutive losses going into conference play.

The Comets (4-3-1 overall in the Bay Valley Conference) finished their preseason tied in second place with Yuba College, and Mendocino College with eight points out of eight games played, after falling 1-0 to the Rams at City College of San Francisco on Sept. 22.   

CCC will play its first conference game against Yuba on Tuesday possibly without leading goal scorer Pedro Rodriguez after injuring his foot early in Friday’s game against LTCC.

Rodriguez is in second place in statewide standings according to with eight goals scored in non-conference play. 

Every goal in the Comets’ 3-1 defeat against the Coyotes (6-3-1 overall) came off a set-piece play, which is when a play is stopped for a foul, out of bounds, and results in a free kick, corner kick, penalty kick or throw-in.

“I still had hope when we were down 2-1, but once (LTCC) put in the third goal with only three minutes left to play it was tough,” Comet striker Byran Vega said. “But we never gave up — it was just too hard to come back.”

During the Coyotes’ third corner at 87 minutes, center defensive back Miguel Prieto cleaned up center attacking midfielder Jerrel Cato’s loose cross into the box from the corner flag, but not before it bounced off centerback Danny Culverwell’s head to redirect the ball toward the far post to seal the win.

“We have to stay more attached to each other,” Comet defensive fullback Davis Okonkwo said. “We lost sight of each other’s position and the play.”

Lake Tahoe coach Ben Wade said the Comets defense was solid throughout transitional play, but it was more the condition of the field that was worked against them.

“It was a good game,” Wade said. “A back and forth battle between two playoff teams. I just hope CCC puts more money into fixing up the field by the next time we come out.”

Comet coach Nikki Ferguson said because of the unevenness of the Soccer Field home games are usually determined in the air. “We didn’t win a single ball in the air in the first half,” Ferguson said. “We did a little better in the second.”

The Coyotes scored on two of their three corner kicks and were awarded a penalty kick three minutes into the second half.

CCC’s lone goal at minute 57; however, spurred a heated physical battle for possession of the midfield as it trailed 2-1.

Comet striker Missel Hernandez used his head to knock in a loose ball after it rebounded off the leg of Coyote goalkeeper Victor Andrades.

Comet striker Byran Santos assisted Hernandez’s goal. Santos had the initial touch off a corner kick from right field that Andrades somehow managed to read and reach at the far post.

Goals from Culverwell and Cato at minutes 12 and 47 rounded off LTCC’s set piece team-hat trick.

While CCC’s overall possession and pressure improved in the second half, attacking plays rarely produced scoring opportunities and the Comets relied on half chances to accumulate its four shots on goal while Lake Tahoe finished with 10.

Comet goalkeeper Eduardo Escamilla finished the game with seven saves.

“It was a tale of two halves that we plan to learn from,” Ferguson said. “But I’m excited about our playoff chances compared with last season considering we had to go against a tougher quality of non-conference competitors.”