Admirable effort ends in heartbreak

Women’s soccer season canceled, reflects ‘feeble’ leadership, poor field

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

Recruiting student-athletes at the community college level is challenging, but for Contra Costa College women’s soccer coach Amanda Beckenhauer, finding players for her second season as coach was nearly impossible.

The 2015 women’s team only had eight players on its official roster when Athletic Director John Wade forfeited the remainder of its schedule on Friday. By the way, soccer teams send 11 players onto the pitch to start each game.   

So, while the decision to forfeit the season was a good one because it will allow the players to return next year without losing a year of their eligibility, the time the coaches and Wade took while listening to the players lobby to play out the season only to finally come to an agreement not to play reflects the current state of the women’s soccer program — an overwhelming sense of disconnect meshed with feeble leadership.

And there is a lot of work that needs to start now in order to ensure this does not repeat itself in 2016.

The 2014 women’s team ended its first season under Beckenhauer with just 11 players and only one win in 20 games played.

But this year the roster never went above 11 players.

This was a clear indicator that the team was spiraling and the athletic director, coaches and players should have decided sooner to cancel the season instead of hoping that the team could add at least four players by the time Bay Valley Conference play started in mid-September.

This became even more evident after watching the 2014 BVC champions Folsom Lake College rout the Comets 6-0 in their only home game of the season on Sept. 22. The game was suspended at 32 minutes in the first half after Comet midfielder Dominique Trevino was injured. According to the rules followed by California Community College Athletic Association soccer teams, when a team drops below seven able players it must forfeit the game.

After that experience the team forfeited its next game to Yuba College on Sept. 25 and then was shut out 10-0 at Mendocino College in Ukiah on Sept. 29.

It was admirable, but foolhardy for Wade to think Beckenhauer and her players would be able to add athletes to the team in September, considering its losing record and the poor condition of the sloped and patchy surface of the Soccer Field.

The seven players Beckenhauer played against FLC fought passionately to try and shut down the gulfs of space that resulted from playing with only seven people. It was a virtuous effort, but a demoralizing result was evident from the outset of the game.

And, as anticipated, the game was deemed a Comet forfeit when Trevino was carried off the field by striker Zoe Glover and Athletic Trainer Mikel Jackson after Trevino was floored in her own defensive half by a Folsom Lake player who missed the ball and struck Trevino’s ankle.

Seeing her being carried off the field, knowing that game could not continue, was heartbreaking.

But watching the Folsom Lake players move the goals closer together and begin a “practice” as CCC’s student-athletes slowly walked toward the locker room, it was clear playing out the season was not a reasonable option.

Meanwhile, Falcon coach Donny Ribaudo said he would never try to play out a season with only seven players.

“I just wouldn’t let that happen,” Ribaudo said, “because I do what is expected of me as a coach to recruit, fundraise and promote (the team).”

Currently, one end line of the Soccer Field is elevated and dry while the other, near El Portal Drive, is sunken in and moist.

The surface in between is uneven, patchy and poses a liability for the college if someone gets injured. The athletic department could find a temporary solution if it arranged for the CCC soccer teams to share Comet Stadium, which is exclusively being used by the football team. Such a change would make recruiting and player retention for Beckenhauer  a bit easier.