KEY ACQUISITION DEAL PREPARED TO LEAD MEN'S TEAM
BY JOSE GUTTIERREZ
Toni Luca receives a pass during drills for the men's soccer team.
PHOTO BY ROBIN HONG / GUARDSMAN
Despite last season's unsuccessful campaign, the 2006 City College Rams men’s soccer team is optimistic and determined to improve.
In 2005 the Rams went 7-8-5; head coach Adam Lucarelli is confident that his team will do better this year.
“Last season we did poorly, we had a very uncharacteristic year,” Lucarelli said. “This season we have a good group of players who are very coachable.”
One standout from the group is returning forward Natnael Manna. Manna battled injury throughout the last season, and highly anticipates the beginning of the season. Manna, who transferred here from Chabot College in 2004, is one of the players who assistant coach Gabriel Saucedo expects to be a team leader.
“He is going to be one of our main players,” Saucedo said. “He is blessed with speed and I feel he will provide us with a lot of offense.”
As assistant coach, one of Saucedo’s many duties is recruiting new players for the program. Forward Stephen Cordova, a new recruit, is a recent addition expected to help the team.
“He has great skill and is a fast forward,” Lucarelli said of Cordova.
Cordova, 18, shows little difficulty practicing with the team’s older players.
“Being one of the team’s youngest players, I feel really comfortable with these guys,” Cordova said. “Practices are going good.”
At practices, coach Lucarelli focuses on preparing the team for every situation and building the right chemistry. He stressed that the team needs to play well together. At one practice he sternly tells his players to do everything for the team. Players acknowledge this as a way of creating team unity.
“We have good team chemistry,” Manna said. “Last season we had players who would do their own thing, this year we have more team players.”
“The team is very friendly and it feels natural playing together.” center midfielder Chris Deal said.
Deal, who attended Missouri State University, is another new addition to the team with a strong soccer background. In one season at Missouri State, he scored 10 goals and had three assists. Deal was also named to the All-Freshman team and was an honorable mention for the All-Conference team.
“He will be one of our leaders. He’s the type of player that makes other people around him better,” Saucedo said. “I see a real good season coming out of him. He’s a play maker who has a great vision of the field.”
With the talent and work ethic that the team possesses, Lucarelli has high expectations for the upcoming season.
“We always want to compete for the conference championship and make it to state,” Lucarelli said. “My goals for the season never change.”
The Rams will play their home games at Boxer Stadium in Balboa Park.
WOMEN'S SOCCER TEAM LOOKS TO IMPROVE
BY JENNIFER LOPEZ
Sue Gao prepares to execute a kick during a recent soccer practice.
PHOTO BY MELISSA MA / GUARDSMAN
The Rams women’s soccer team looks to improve In their second season after a disappointing debut year, when the team went 3-12-4.
Head coach Cassandra Cunningham is very optimistic about this year’s set of players.
“It’s a different outlook than last year. We have a real good freshman class and good returning players,” Cunningham said.
Midfielder Melissa Meadows and forward Ginger Testerman are among several players who make up a strong freshman class that will be an asset to the team.
“They show maturity and experience,” Cunningham said of the freshmen players.
Captains Emma Larkin and Nicole Hall are also very confident about their close-knit team.
“There’s definitely a team unity that has been formed because we’ve gotten to know each other better,” Larkin said.
“I’m excited — we have good new people and good returning players,” Hall said.
Rebuilding and improving the team begins with the Rams’ practice sessions, which consists of drills, sprints, laps and practice games, where players push each other to the limit. Even stopper Lucia Olson, who suffers from asthma, doesn’t get much special treatment.
“I can’t breathe!” Olson screamed during one recent practice session, while attempting to use her inhaler. But Olson quickly recovered and returned to practice drills.
The players seem to appreciate the difficult training.
“She hasn’t killed us yet,” Larkin said jokingly.
Cunningham applauds the players’ efforts and work ethic.
“They train hard and compete hard,”
“There is already a nice camaraderie that took the team last year longer to accomplish.”
The Rams expect to face similar challenges as they did in 2005; many of the same teams in the Coast Conference maintain strong rosters, like DeAnza College, who beat the Rams 7-2 in the previous season.
Despite last season's losses, the players anticipate the team’s strength will contribute to their improvement.
“The team has more energy and we’re stronger. We’ve put a lot of hard work into preparing for this season,” midfielder Veronica Gonzalez said.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes last season and we’ve made the improvements,” Larkin said.
BY MILES HARWELL
In the season opener, the Rams faced the Golden Coast football league All-Stars. Despite facing semi-professional team comprised primarily of players from the Golden Coast champion NorCal Lawmen, the Rams hammered the All-Stars in a 47-6 rmping.
Much of the Rams offensive attack was done through the air, as quarterback Zac Lee completed 15-of-22 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Lee also scrambled for an additional score on a one-yard run in the beginning of the third quarter.
Receiver Derek Davis' name was heard frequently throughout the contest, as he accumulated a game-high 108 yards off four catches with one touchdown. Andre Wells added two additional touchdowns, with 65 yards off five cathes. Everett Barnet caught three passes totalling 20 yards.
Tailback Tyreece Jacks was held to only 70 yards on nine rushing attempts. Darrell Valdez rushed three times for 15 yards and one touchdown. Dominic Williams contributed 26 rushing yards on three rushing attempts. Second-string quarterback Kyle Barker rushed 37 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Rams' defense foreced two All-Star turnovers, with comeback Deslund Williams and linebacker Patrick Grass intercepting passes in the contest.