Squad topples first place team, gains top spot

By Efrain Valdez, Social Media Editor

On a muddy pitch Wednesday, the men’s soccer team beat Napa Valley College 4-1 in the final home game of the season. The schedule change, due to the North Bay fires, set up back-to-back contests between both squads who are in first and second place in the Bay Valley Conference standings.

“They have kind of been carrying the torch for our conference this year,” coach Nikki Ferguson said about Napa Valley owning first place in the BVC for most of the season. “Getting this victory today puts us in control of our own destiny.”

With this victory, the Comets only need a draw or a win to become BVC champions in their final game. “We expect a tougher game, the pressure is on them now and we know they want that BVC championship,” Comet defender Raul Garcia said.

The final game of the season will be played Nov. 10 at 12 p.m. at Napa Valley College. The Comet squad is looking to win its third straight Bay Valley Conference championship and earn its third straight NorCal Regional Playoff berth.

For the first 20 minutes of the game, play was sloppy, caused by muddy field conditions, as off and on showers plagued San Pablo for most of the afternoon.

Possession and chances were even during that stretch.

Comet goalkeeper Ronaldo Hernandez set the defensive tone for his team in the early minutes of play when he was forced to make a low near post save off a hard shot.

The save energized CCC and the team began to take possession of the ball.

The increase in pace eventually lead to Comet forward Anthony Maytum breaking the 0-0 deadlock right before halftime.

At the break, CCC led the Storm 1-0.

Garcia, who scored the third goal for CCC, said that he and a Napa player were talking about how bad the field conditions were and how that affected the play for both teams.

“We came out and took care of business at home, that takes all the pressure off us,” he said.

Napa Valley coach Raul Ochoa said, they (CCC) deserved to win, our team was stagnant at times and we hesitated going to the ball first. By us doing that, we left gaps in the back.

Contra Costa capitalized on all the chances they got — and we didn’t.

“I hate to say it but this is our last away game of the season and this is the worst field we’ve played on,” Ochoa said. “We can’t control that, the field is what it is.”

Ferguson also knows that the Comets home field offers no advantages for his team.

“The field is sloppy for both teams,” Ferguson said. “I felt like our goals were quality goals, we’ve always had to deal with the field — I don’t think that played a role in the score.”

Napa Valley cut Contra Costa’s lead in half after a defensive meltdown during a free kick from the right flank.

CCC defenders and goalkeeper allowed the Napa striker to slip in between to score on a cheeky header with 28 minutes left in the game.

13 minutes later, Comet team captain, Juvenal Pena got a pass and hit it off the volley from outside the box to give his team a 4-1 lead, effectively sealing the game for CCC.

“I felt like we found ways to create good possessions, regardless if it was build up or counter,” Ferguson said. “We were able to put ourselves in good situations to finish and the score is an indication of that.”