Stable backline suppresses scoring

Comet defender Bradley Alman (center) jumps up for a header during the first half of CCC’s 3-1 win against Chabot College at the Soccer Field on Friday.

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-Chief

A three goal brace and a stable defensive backline helped the men’s soccer squad hold Chabot College to scoring on a lone penalty kick late in the second half at the Soccer Field on Sept. 19.

Contra Costa College (3-3-1 overall) ended non-conference play with a 3-1 win against the Gladiators (1-1-2 overall) despite CCC having wingback Enri Refunjol ejected after being shown his second yellow card at 83 minutes.

Referee Victor Mba booked Refunjol with a delay of game foul and a handball inside the penalty area when he got in the way of a Gladiator cross pass sent from midfielder, Alexis Lizama.

The Gladiator late penalty kick, converted by Ramon Alcazar for the team’s only score, became a consolation prize when Chabot failed to clear the ball out of its attacking third at 58 minutes, which led to a CCC goal.

Comet midfielder Missel Hernandez headed the attempted clearance from just outside the center of the penalty area toward center back Bradley Alman, who stood 20 yards out from goal at the right edge.

“When the ball came to me I was instinctively going to turn and shoot,” Alman said. “But I looked up and noticed that there was no one within 15 feet so I lined up (a shot) and kicked it as hard as I could.”
His right-footed shot slammed into goal, just inside the far post, past the outstretched Gladiator keeper Oswaldo Zamudio to bring the score to 3-1 with 32 minutes left in the game.

The Gladiator offensive drives, focused along the wings, rarely posed a threat to the Comet defensive backline that forced attacking players to rush wayward cross passes into the penalty area.

Chabot proved to be a more dangerous threat during counter attacks by sending long aerial passes from the midfield.

Comet keeper Jose Ayalas’ positioning diffused possible scoring situations for the Gladiators when he rushed out to recover the ball before the Gladiator attacking players could reach it.

Ayala also dove for five total saves until he was subbed out for Stephane Vanier after sustaining a muscle injury and taken off the field during the second half.

The Comet offensive pressure managed to produce 10 shots on goal compared to Chabot’s nine, by the end of the game.

Comet coach Nikki Ferguson said, “Today we played with a certain level of confidence and a sense of urgency in the attacking third of the field.”

He said this tactic created many turnovers in front of the penalty area and gave nine of his starting 11 players opportunities for shots on goal.

During the first half, CCC’s quick one-two passes along the wings created six of those scoring opportunities. Attacking players Bryan Vega and Brian Santos each scored during quick counter attacks at four and 14 minutes, respectively.

The first goal of the game developed along the left sideline. A filtered ground pass from CCC left back Jesus Villagrana found striker Byran Vega onside about 25 yards from goal, as he sprinted diagonally into the penalty area.

Once inside, Vega rifled the ball in mid-stride, which ricocheted off the inside of the crossbar and into the goal.

“I was shocked,” he said. “It seemed like the ball was going over the (goal) but it dropped at the last second and went in.”
CCC then managed to keep control of the tempo by applying pressure in the midfield and the Chabot defensive half, to force turnovers. The squad was rewarded about 10 minutes later.

Santos snuck the ball into goal at the far post with his head when right fullback Alejandro Gonzalez delivered a short cross from the right side of the penalty area.

The Comets are scheduled to open Bay Valley Conference play at Yuba College at 4 p.m. on Friday.