Eagles down Comets in conference opener

Lack of scoring continues to plague team


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Comet midfielder George Burrows and Eagle midfielder Jose Araiza battle for possession of the ball during CCC’s 2-1 loss to Mendocino College at the Soccer Field on Friday.

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

Despite dominating in possession and shots, the Comets failed to snap a five-game losing streak or match Mendocino College’s efficiency in front of goal during a 2-1 loss at the Soccer Field on Friday.

Contra Costa College men’s soccer team’s slow start in a fast-paced game let the Eagles smuggle a win and three Bay Valley Conference points away from the Comets.

“We dominated in all phases of the game, but we just couldn’t score goals.” Contra Costa College men’s soccer coach Nikki Ferguson said post game.

“We created a ton of chances, but our lack of finishing is frustrating because it is something we have been working on all week in training.”

The Comets (0-1 in BVC and 4-7-1 overall) outshot the visiting team 13-6 by the end of the game, forcing the Eagle’s goalkeeper Luis Zavala to make nine saves.

But the Eagles (1-0 in BVC, 2-7-1 overall) capitalized on half-chances created by the Comets’ defensive errors at minutes 17 and 56 to score their sixth and seventh goals in 10 games.

The game-winning goal was scored 11 minutes into the second half when Comet goalkeeper Eduardo Escamilla stepped off his line in a crowded penalty area to punch away a centered pass from an Eagle free kick.

But the ball deflected off of another player and then to Eagle midfielder Alejandro Cabada who tapped it just inside the far post of goal from about 5 yards out to make the score 2-0 with about 44 minutes remaining.

“We didn’t challenge (the Eagles) physically in the (penalty area). They challenged our goalkeeper (Escamilla) twice only 10 minutes into the second half,” Ferguson said.

“The second time we gave up a goal because he was knocked down and someone tapped it in — that’s the level of physicality we needed to show in the final attacking third (of the field).”

MC went into the second half up 1-0 at halftime with only two shots on goal — CCC had five shots.

Comet left midfielder Anthony Maytum said the first half was full of chances to score but the level of urgency mounted in the second half when the team fell down to 2-0.

Maytum was substituted in minute 40 for a minor ankle sprain. Maytum said he sprained his ankle on an uneven patch of field while battling for possession of a loose ball at half field.

“Lack of finishing kills a team and that lack of concentration in the final third is what has been hurting us,” Maytum said.

“We are a talented group of individuals but we need to find the right chemistry moving forward into conference play.”

The Comets’ best chance to tie came late in the second half when CCC was awarded a free kick from about 20 yards along the right edge of the penalty area.

Midfielder Eduardo Torres smashed a curling shot toward the corner of the near post, but Zavala tallied his seventh save with his right hand.

Mendocino soccer coach Shane Huff said he is proud of his young team’s ability to hold onto an important defensive win on the road, especially after a grueling non-conference schedule similar to CCC’s.

“Contra Costa (College) is a good team and toward the end of game there they were knocking on our door.” Huff said.

“I’m glad the game ended when it did — if there were a couple more minutes it could have easily turned into a different result.”

Two goals, scored by Eagle midfielders David Casteneda and Cabada, gave the Eagles enough leverage for its defense to keep last year’s BVC champion Comets scoreless until minute 70.

“The difference between the (first and second) halves is that more of our passes were getting in behind (the Eagles’) backline,” Ferguson said.

“They were able to find those defensive seams at times, but not enough — they played in front of (the Eagles’) defense instead of finding the seams with pace.”

The Comets’ scoring counterattack developed during a give-and-go between center forward Jordan Fletchero and striker Jahrie Gray at half field near the right sideline.

Fletchero returned Gray’s square pass with a cheeky backheel flick. Gray then burst into space toward the center of the field to draw Zavala off his line before the lay off pass to center midfielder George Burrows striding into the edge of the penalty area.

Burrows rifled a low-shot to the near-post past a lunging Zavala to put CCC within one goal.

The Comets’ efforts until the final whistle however, were not enough to get all three points awarded the winner in the BVC standings.

Depending on the results of Tuesday’s game at Merritt College in Oakland, the Comets could play against Yuba College on Friday at the Soccer Field at 4 p.m. with a longer losing streak, or  a fresh start.