It was never going to be an easy season for the men’s soccer team, coming into this season with only 5 returning players and 20 freshmen with no experience in community college soccer. The Lancers finished dead last at fifth place (1-6-1) in a competitive South Coast Conference and at an overall of 5-11-4 after 22 games.
When the pre-season began, the expectations for the Lancers 2017 season were set high. The reason? In last year’s successful season, the Lancers reached the third round of the playoffs, exceeding their goal and placing them in a seed with teams like Mt. Sac and Fresno. They’d finish the season 12-5-6 and 3-2-3 in the SCC North, losing at home only once.
However, this year, the opposite occurred. The Lancers head coach Henry Cabral resigned for personal reasons mid-season. Many players from last season didn’t return. Injuries took a toll on the starting lineup. The team suffered losses left and right. In many occasions, the casualty of an early goal often led to a loss. When the team led by one goal, self pressure mounted and the lead was often swept from under them.
“We had positions set from the year before, coming into this year we knew what was expected of players and a lot of players not coming back affected us, we had to switch our game plan and our line up,” said leading scorer Pablo Buenrostro. “When it was games we lost because of stupid mistakes, we knew we could have gotten that [win]. So, it brought down the morale, especially since we had a successful season last year and not having a successful season this year affected us.”
“We weren’t used to all the losses,” Buenrostro added.
The talent was there, the goals not so much. Surprisingly, the team held the top shot taker in the conference with 157. Putting the ball in the back of the net proved difficult with only 29 goals scored from 67 shots on target.
The Lancers displayed it well on Nov. 3 against East Los Angeles college, where talent and lack of defending all came together. Two amazing goals by Romeo Sislian and a penalty slotted in by Pablo Buenrostro gave the Lancers a 3-2 win. ELAC’s goals shouldn’t have happened, but they were a result of a defensive blunder and an own goal.
“I knew a lot would be put on me, there was going to be a lot on my shoulders. I think the wins and losses all pinned down to me,” said captain Joshua Arevalo. “We just didn’t have the stability.”
Albeit, the Lancers offered grit, determination, and knack of constantly attacking the opposition, no matter the result. Each game, they battled out to the end of the whistle.
The team adjusted to any tactical issues. Players like Bryce Watson and Pablo Buenrostro were prime examples of switching positions. Watson often switched from his left back duties to the left wing position and Buenrostro was moved from a center midfielder to a center forward, proving vital for the team as he finished the season with top scorer of PCC with 8 goals.
As mentioned before, their head coach Cabral left mid-season. The empty position was filled in by acting head coach Gerry Mora. The active coach was more reserved, often having no comment after the game. However, in several occasions, their assistant coach Francisco Cantero, in an aggressive fashion, did not allow for interviews to be conducted with the players. Cantero would shout at players who were approached by the PCC Courier, and did not allow any post-game interviews.
At the end of the day the Lancers did not let the results of the game affect their surroundings, but only saw it as experienced gained to come back with a stronger and tougher mentality.
For four of the five sophomores, their talent has come with an accolade. According to PCC’s Athletic website, leading goalscorer Buenrostro, team captain Arevalo, speedy right back Satchel Robinson, and striker Sislian were all named into the 2017 All-SCC North team.
“I’m looking for a school to transfer to, hopefully I can play there,” said Robinson. “For now I’ll be getting stuff done here.”
All in all, another year of transition shall show what is to come in the 2018 season for the Lancers.