The men’s soccer team (7-2-1 in the Bay Valley Conference) failed to win its third consecutive BVC championship and its third consecutive NorCal playoff berth when it lost 2-1 to Napa Valley College on Friday.
After beating Napa Valley (8-2-0 in the BVC) by a 4-1 margin Nov. 8 at home, all the Comets had to do was get a draw on Friday to win the conference championship.
“We didn’t get the best warm-up,” Contra Costa College defender Raul Garcia said. “There was a lot of traffic driving up there because of the rain. We only warmed up for about 30 minutes.
“We dominated possession for most of the game and we scored first and were up a player when their attacking midfielder got a red card for cursing at his teammates.”
Leading 1-0, CCC failed to double its lead on a few occasions in the first half and a red card to one of Napa’s best players on the squad sparked life into the home team.
“I was surprised by the drive they (Napa) had to win after losing their best player. They started to sit back and counter us as we moved up,” Garcia said.
In the second half, CCC continued to dominate possession but failed to convert goals. Napa sat back patiently for the remainder of the game and as soon as it caught the Comet wing backs up field they countered dangerously.
“All they would do is long throw-ins and corner kicks. Their tall center backs would go up and that was hard to defend,” Comet forward James Sibrian said.
Napa Valley coach Raul Ochoa said, “We managed to stay composed after the red card. We stayed back and absorbed the pressure they (CCC) brought. I think the team responded well to the pressure. We had our backs up against the wall but we converted when it mattered.”
Napa’s first goal of the game came by way of a throw-in near the corner flag. The ball was headed back by a Napa player toward the second post over the Comet goalkeeper.
Garcia said that the person who was guarding second post was in position to clear the ball, but he slipped going forward due to the muddy field.
“They were talking about our field being bad. Yes, their field is flat and their grass is green, but it was very muddy and slippery,” Garcia said.
The Comets, after a commanding 4-1 victory over Napa at home last Wednesday, were set on beating their conference rivals again for the championship — in the last game of conference play.
“We honestly thought we were going to beat them. We played a good game against them at home so we had confidence coming in,” Garcia said.
The Comets began the season playing powerhouse soccer programs from all over the state. While getting some draws against good opposition like Butte College and Las Positas College, the team failed to beat prestigious programs like City College of San Francisco and Fresno City College.
Not winning the conference was unexpected but the growth that the soccer program has seen over the last few years is evident. With the foundation that coach Nikki Ferguson has set, this program is poised to be a competitor for years to come.