The Lancers had no idea what to expect from the Norco Mustangs last Tuesday, nevertheless they prepared to the best of their ability, and managed to win 2-1, but then lost 0-2 against the Oxnard Condors the following Friday.
“We haven’t played [the Mustangs] in years,” said Head Coach Gerry Mora. “Usually when we go to play certain teams, we already know their formations and their style. But each game is different. We went in confident and I tried to get my guys ready.”
The Lancers went down in the first ten minutes after the Mustangs’ right-midfielder immediately scored a goal in the 18-yard box.
“When we kicked off the match, we did start the game slow,” said Vice Captain Adam Ure. “But we came into our own rhythm and we started playing our own game by pushing them around the field instead of being pushed.”
PCC stuck to their usual style by playing in a fast-paced manner, keeping the ball on the ground, and ensuring that it stayed in their possession. The players practiced these strategies during the week prior to the game.
The team’s victory against the Mustangs marked PCC’s second win in a row following their game against the Allan Hancock Bulldogs. However, the streak quickly ended after their loss against the Condors on Friday.
While the team lacked knowledge regarding the Mustangs’ playing style, the exact opposite can be said about the Condors.
Prior to working at PCC, Mora was a soccer coach in Ventura County and worked with the opposing team’s Head Coach Ross Greaney.
“He’s a smart guy so he demands a lot from his players,” said Mora. “He’s very disciplined, very organized. I always like playing against him because they’re a good team. It helps us grow as a team and as individuals.”
The Lancers stuck to their game plan by only substituting players whenever they needed a rest and making several minor tactical switches. Despite having little possession of the ball, they were able to record more shots on goals than the Condors.
Ultimately, the Condors pulled ahead by two goals.
“I believe we frustrated them throughout the game,” said Assistant Coach Art Alvarado. “It was a close game. Just a few minor tweaks and I believe we can compete with some of the top teams, which we hope to prove in the next couple weeks.”
The most challenging aspect about playing this season is the lack of confidence that the team receives from fellow PCC students, said Emannuel Becerra, center midfielder.
“A lot of people don’t realize how good we are this season,” said Becerra. “It’s just a matter of proving everyone wrong. [Students] see PCC as an easy win, but this year we’ve shown that we’re different.”
For Mora, his main objective is to ensure that there is development within each player, particularly in leadership and self-growth.
He specifically organized the team to help them become independent and self-sufficient. The players choose their own captain and vice captain. Additionally, about four or five leadership positions are chosen to guide groups of smaller committees, an idea that came from the All Blacks, a New Zealand rugby team.
These committees mentor the incoming freshmen about aspects beyond the field. The leaders then help them find any resources to use to their advantage, such as the Lancer Pantry or learning centers on campus. Furthermore, team bonding events are held outside of school to strengthen their camaraderie.
“It’s definitely a family, a brotherhood, ‘You’ve got my back and I’ve got yours,’” said Mora. “The season can go well, but the most important thing is growing as a person with your teammates.”