Comets earn connsecutive title
Men’s soccer team breaks losing rut, surges to playoffs
December 8, 2016
Filed under Sports
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The men’s soccer team sealed its second consecutive Bay Valley Conference championship and third straight NorCal Regional Playoffs berth this fall.
Contra Costa College (12-8-2 overall, 8-1-1 in the BVC) was knocked out of the first round of the playoffs 3-1 at De Anza College on Nov. 19.
Before entering the playoffs, the Comets strung together an eight-game winning streak in conference and boasted the 10th best record in the state.
But winning did not come easy for the mostly freshman squad at the start of the 2016 season. By mid-season the team was 4-7-2 overall.
The turnaround from mid table in conference to first is why five Comet players were named 1st Team All Conference and four players 2nd Team All-Conference.
BVC Coach of the Year Nikki Ferguson said the problem early in the season was that players did not understand their responsibility for developing as a player and as a teammate at a higher competitive level.
“Community college level soccer is a different animal than at the club or high school level,” Ferguson said.
“The competition is not easy and a lot of players don’t realize that coming onto the team as freshman.”
“But we have grown a lot as a team and rose to the occasion. I am proud we made it as far as we did considering where we started.”
An inconsistent offense plagued the squad until its third game of conference play when it tied 1-1 against Merritt College at the Soccer Field on Oct. 4.
Since this win, the defense supported an emerging offense by holding every team in conference to less than two goals.
“This season was incredible. It feels good to earn back-to-back BVC titles and make the playoffs,” sophomore defender Edgar Yepes said.
“We did the best we could and I’m proud of how far we made it.”
Yepes, freshman left back Eduardo Torres and goalkeeper Eduardo Escamilla were the foundation in the defensive half that provided a mold for freshman defenders to fill into.
“I enjoyed my time here and gave it all, and left it all on the field,” Escamilla said after the 3-1 defeat against the Dons.
“I did it not only for school but teammates and everyone in our community.”
The team combined to score 40 goals while its defense ceded 34. Escamilla finished the season with 71 saves, according to cccaasports.org.
Most of the goals scored against Escamilla were ceded in early non-conference matchups against the top 15 community college men’s soccer programs in the state.
The Comet offense started playing more cohesively in its 3-0 win against Yuba College on Oct. 7.
Since that shutout against the 49ers, the team scored 23 goals—more than half of the goals scored throughout the entire season.
Leading goal scorer Jordan Flechero finished the season with seven goals and three assists while freshman midfielder Juvenal Pena scored six goals and supplied two assists.
Sophomore forward George Burrows slotted four goals and one assist to complement freshman forward Jahrie Grey’s three goals and assists record.
Ferguson said he is proud of the team’s resiliency during a grueling non-conference schedule and the growth of the young players on the squad.
He said he expects about 80 percent of the mostly freshman squad to return next season.
Escamilla said he has been working with second-string goalkeeper Sergio Carda-Diaz and third string Mohammadhasein Jumshidian for next season.
“We’ve spent time training and now their time coming while mine comes to close,” Escamilla said.
“I have done my best to tell them how to protect the goal and what it means to represent the Comets.”
Ferguson said he will begin recruiting now that the season is over, but he expects next year’s team to be made up of mostly sophomores.