An inexperienced men’s soccer team produced the worst season at PCC in five years by compiling an overall record of 5-13-3 and a dismal 3-10-1 finish in the South Coast conference.
The Lancers fielded 19 freshman in their 24-man squad, which exposed these 18 year olds against more seasoned, stronger and tactically astute 22 and 23-year-old opposition. According to head coach Edgar Manvelyan, this was the major reason for his team’s displeasing season.
“The biggest thing was that all nineteen freshman were 18 year olds and three of the five sophomores we had, only three of them were starters. We were a very young team and immature, which hurt us a lot,” Manvelyan said.
Another huge liability for PCC was their inability to convert countless scoring opportunities. Out of the 72 teams in the state, Pasadena was the fifth worst team in shooting efficiency, capitalizing on just 9.7 percent of their 277 scoring chances with 27 goals in 21 games. What makes this statistic even more glaring is that the Lancers had the fifth most shots at the net in California. The leading scorer was co-captain George Barba, a defender who netted four goals in 21 games.
Sophomore midfielder and co-captain Victor Manchaca lamented the loss of key striker Kevin Geddes, who broke his foot early in the season and was unable to return. Geddes netted three goals in his six appearances.
“We lacked a good striker. If Kevin wouldn’t have gotten injured he would have been a great help. He definitely had the qualities to be a really awesome striker and could have changed each game,” Manchaca said.
Manvelyan was unable to replicate his best-ever coaching performance last season after leading the team to a No. 10 ranking in Southern California, third in the South Coast Conference. This season turned out to be his worst ever coaching performance in his five year reign at PCC and the season ended on a six-game losing streak.
“This has been the worst record I’ve had and it has been the worst result at home,” Manvelyan said. “We don’t usually lose at home. It’s very difficult to play at our field and we didn’t do well this year. The second-half of our conference season wasn’t great.”
Even though Manvelyan wasn’t happy with the team’s overall results, he didn’t lose sight of his main focus as a coach: to prepare his sophomores for soccer at the four-year university level.
“Our job and number one priority is to get these kids to the next level and all of my five sophomores will transfer and play soccer at the next level,” he said. “As a coach you’re happy with that because you did your job. As far as the team in how we did, I was not too happy with the results that we had”.
The turning point of the Lancer’s season was their emphatic 8-2 loss to Cerritos at home and they never recovered from this humbling. Prior to that game, Pasadena started the conference season with a promising 2-1-1 record that indicated they had the potential to compete for a playoff spot. But the wheels fell off during two consecutive games where they conceded 12 goals, leading Manvelyan to bench captains Barba and Manchaca for the beginning of the next game against Long Beach.
Lackluster defense and questionable accountability also contributed to a poor season that yielded only five wins from 21 games and in numerous games the Lancers gave up the opening goal, which made it overwhelming trying to carve out wins coming from behind.
“We only had two leaders on the team—Barba and myself—and unfortunately nobody wanted to be led and they wanted to lead. In order to lead you have to learn how to be led by someone,” Manchaca said.
“Nobody wanted to admit to any mistakes and overall we’re a team and if one makes a mistake we all fall,” Manchaca added. “Lack of communication in the formation and moving side to side they broke our defensive lines and we didn’t know how to properly switch side to side. The organization we had was just awful in the second-part of the season and it just tore and it was very hard to come back.”
Barba blamed the team’s unfortunate season on the extremely high level of play in their conference, ineligibility, injuries, lack of contingency plans and inadequate mental fortitude from the freshman players.
“We have the hardest conference in the state, so you’re automatically put into that high intensity. So as a freshman you don’t expect the high level to be there,” Barba said. “Some of our athletes had to register for classes half-way through the season and we had a lot of injuries, which set us back a lot because it was difficult to fill in those gaps and it was tough to adjust by putting an attacking player in as a defender.”
Manvelyan insisted that PCC will come back stronger than ever next season with a squad filled with talented sophomores and will push for the playoffs and also challenge for the league title. The recruitment process has gotten underway as the Lancers attempt to atone for a disappointing season by regrouping and building for next year.