Comets’ solid communication dominates Knights

CCC wins in windy season opener, 2-0

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-chief

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Solid communication between the Comets’ midfield and defensive backline shut out a discombobulated Shasta College squad 2-0 in a windy pre-season opener at the Soccer Field on Aug. 29.

Contra Costa College (1-0-0 overall) led 2-0 by halftime because of goals from center attacking midfielder Ivan Marin, and striker Bryan Santos.

Marin rifled in a volley from 23 yards out at 15 minutes. Santos scored 10 minutes later during one of the many CCC corner kicks when he used the top of his head, at the near post, to loft the ball backward into the net.

Shasta (0-1-0) coach Daniel Valdivia said, “We came out a little nervous. Players were unsure of positions that (they were) playing and our team chemistry was off during the first half.”

A high pressure Comet defensive backline repeatedly forced turnovers in the midfield before the Knight attack could develop into CCC’s attacking third.

Valdivia said his team was much stronger in the second half by applying more pressure in the midfield to create turnovers. However, his team needed to be more clinical with scoring opportunities.

After a loosely defended first half, the Knights began to apply more pressure during the first 20 minutes of the second by congesting the Comets’ passing options in the midfield and challenging players who had the ball.

Sophomore center back Brad Alman communicated with his backline in order to maintain shape during Shasta offensive drives.

“We got a little too comfortable in the midfield coming into the second half up 2-0,” Alman said. “It is somewhere you don’t want to be. You really want to be three (goals) up because if they score one they are already back in it.”

Alman said Comet coaches told the team at halftime to play the 1-2 pass more during transition plays.

This means to pass the ball to a center midfield player, who lures a defender to him, and then passes the ball out wide to CCC’s full wing backs. They then make the run up the wing to send in the aerial cross pass.
“But the wind was rough,” Alman said.

Shasta players also grew impatient because of the wind and attempted to filter the ball quickly up the field on the ground to striker Harold Stacey who tried, and failed, to burst past CCC center backs Alman and Nicolas Bob.

The Knights best chance to score came in the last 10 minutes of the game. A cross pass sent to the far post from the left wing found striker Stacey 5 yards in front of the goal. Stacey’s right-footed shot, however, was rocketed over the crossbar.

Valdivia said both of the Comets’ goals were “lucky” because they bounced in off of deflections.

Assistant coach Jon Scoles said he disagrees with Valdivia’s statement that luck was the dominant factor in the Comets’ opening win.

Scoles said CCC’s first goal started from a play in the midfield. Right back Alejandro Gonzalez was unguarded in the right wing to receive the cross. He then used his pace to charge the ball into a dangerous spot toward the end line.

Scoles said, “He (Gonzalez) was able to cut the ball back into the center of the box and (Marin) struck the ball well. Yeah, it took a small deflection but he struck it well.

“The second was from a corner kick. The ball was sent to the near post and because of a good run from (Santos), he was able to flick it into the far post.”

CCC out-shot Shasta 3-1 for the game and earned nine corner kicks to the Knights’ zero.

When in possession, the Comets’ midfield supported its offense by moving the ball out wide into scoring opportunities along the sideline to left wing back Jesus Villagrana, and right wing back Gonzalez. Both players had goal assists.

Efforts from the wing back’s rewarded the Comets with an abundance of corners kicks. One of these was almost converted in the opening minutes of the game.

Alman leaped over three Shasta defenders in search of the delivery in front of goal, only to have the ball graze over the top of his head.

“I missed a couple of really good chances off of corners,” Alman said, “especially the one that went just over my head in the first five minutes. We should have won by a larger margin, at least 3-0.”

With a few scoring opportunities wasted, a strong defensive display ensured the Comets’ win, freshman keeper Stephane Vanier said.

Vanier played the final 20 minutes after being subbed into the game when contact with a Shasta striker’s shoulder aggravated starting keeper Jose Ayala’s bruised rib during a scramble for a loose ball in the box — an injury that Ayala sustained in practice.

Vanier said, “I had no saves so, defensively, we were good enough. Offensively, we did what we had to do to get up front. We were up two nothing at halftime and then we kind of took care of business in second half by being solid on defense.”

The Comets face Modesto in their next pre-conference game at 4 p.m. on the Soccer Field on Tuesday.

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