Comets snap 49ers streak, share control in conference

Men’s soccer team ruins Yuba’s unbeaten conference record

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

MARYSVILLE — Despite Yuba College trailing by one goal at the outset of the second half, the men’s soccer team’s early first half brace was enough to snap the 49er undefeated streak — and topple their supremacy of the Bay Valley Conference.
As a result of Friday’s 2-1 win, Contra Costa College (9-5-2 overall, 5-1-1 in the BVC, 16 points) extended its undefeated conference game streak to six and now shares first place with Yuba (9-5-1 overall, 5-1-1 in the BVC, 16 points) as of press time Tuesday.
Yuba coach Imed Dossey said his team was unable to match the Comets’ high tempo offensive at the start of the game and it took going down two goals at minutes 6 and 12 for Yuba to find its rhythm.
“(Yuba) was too confident since they were on an undefeated streak and probably thought we were an easy opponent,” Comet midfielder Jorge Avina said, “But we started with everything we had.”
By the end of the game, the Comets outshot the 49ers 12-7.
Avina’s penalty kick and left wing back Benjamin Reiter’s volley provided a brace to defend against a panicked 49er offense that sought to add onto center midfielder Arron Chag’s goal, scored at 37 minutes, during the dying minutes of the game.
“This was the biggest game of the season so far,” Reiter said. “All together I thought it was a gutsy performance and a solid win to propel us in our quest for a playoff run.”
At the five minute mark, Reiter was slammed to the turf by a mistimed 49er tackle on the left side of the penalty area. The Comets were awarded a penalty kick that Avina scored, and at 12 minutes he finished midfielder Jesus Villgrana’s cross from a corner kick with a short volley past goalkeeper Colby Campbell.
“(The Comets) came into this game gunning for our first place spot,” Dossy said. “They are not a better team than us. They had a better game plan and executed it well.”
Depending how well the 49ers fare when they travel to Ukiah to play Mendocino College and CCC’s performance against Napa Valley College on Tuesday, Friday’s home game against the College of Marin may be a chance for the team to solidify its spot at the top of the conference. The BVC champion is assured a playoff berth.
“This result was huge,” Comet coach Nikki Ferguson said. “We could not afford to lose (against Yuba) because at this point we needed these three points if we expect to get into the playoffs for a second year in a row.
“Going forward we have to run with this win, we need to get all 15 points over the next five games remaining in the season — we need to max out.”
Ferguson said if the team is able to remain healthy and play like it did against Yuba then he is “absolutely” confident they will not drop any points going forward.
Comet goalkeeper Eduardo Escamilla, six saves, and Avina agreed the team dominated possession for the first 20 minutes of the game, but after scoring two goals in six minutes they became too “relaxed” defensively and ceded a goal before the second half.
In the second half, Avina and Reiter said the team did well to fall back and defend during the frequent 49er counter attacks caused by their offense’s inability to finish off scoring opportunities.
“We had a few opportunities,” 49er defensive back Antonio Montes said. “But overall our play was lazy and (CCC) capitalized on our slow tempo.
“It was huge for us to win this game,” Montes said. “Now, (CCC) caught up to us in first place because they came out here and handled business — they came into the game hungry for a win.”
Center defensive midfielder Calros Munoz and Villagrana were vital in stopping runs and intercepting passes in the midfield to limit the 49ers’ counter attacks before the ball could be supplied to their three strikers pushed high up the field.
Ferguson said at the start of the season the team’s mission was not to be BVC champion but to make it into the playoffs through the power point ranking system like last season.
At this point in the season, however, he said the team must do “whatever it takes to get into the playoffs, and if that means being (BVC) champions then that’s what we have to do,” considering that they lost against high-ranking teams in non-conference play.
Ferguson said while the Comets have reason to be proud of this win against a “quality” team, they need to remain focused and take the rest of the season “one game at a time”.
“Our players are excited,” he said. “But games are going to get tougher moving forward.”
Last season three teams from the BVC were seeded into the 14-team Northern California Regional Playoffs for men’s soccer.
The Comets, who finished in second place in the BVC in 2014 were slotted as the 12 seed, while champion Mendocino College and third place College of Marin were seeded 9th and 14th respectively.