By Seamus Geoghegan
After only two playoff matches versus Reedley and Fresno colleges, the Rams women’s soccer season has come to an abrupt end.
The team went into their playoff run off the back of a 1-0 loss to Cabrillo on Nov. 11, a game that decided which of the two powerhouses of the season would take home the conference title. As defending champions, the Rams went into the game as favorites.
Conceding an early goal in the 33rd minute from a corner, the Rams were unable to come back after going a goal down.
Despite being beaten, head coach Jeff Wilson feels like his side was the better on the day.
“It was hard-fought, we still felt leaving it that we were the better team and had the better opportunities,” Wilson said. “I think in some ways, despite not getting a conference title which is the most disappointing thing if at all, it’s a motivating factor. It kind of catches the attention of the team and refocuses them.”
That sentiment was shared among players including defender Elaina Gonzalez.
“Going into the Reedley match, I think our team was ready for the battle,” Gonzalez said. “I think the loss before [at Cabrillo] was even more fuel and motivation since we knew we couldn’t [have] played better. It was our moment to show who City truly was and we did just that.”
The team consisted of several players who had been with the side in their playoff run during the season prior, a factor that coach Wilson thinks helped City.
“You don’t get a second chance when you get to this point,” Wilson said. “So unless you want that disappointment that we’ve experienced before, it’s time to step it up and put everything on the field.”
City started the Nov.19 game against Reedley strong, maintaining a majority of possession in the first half but couldn’t find the back of the net. Just like during their game at Cabrillo, the side was struggling in the final third of play, leading to the team playing desperate balls over the top and straying from the game plan.
“We knew that they were really strong through the middle so we were going to try and spread them out and beat them on the widths,” Wilson said. “It didn’t quite work out… Maybe there’s more internal pressure when you don’t get the goal early that you’re accustomed to getting.”
When the team came out for the second half they were more disciplined, keeping most of their attacks down the wings. It was a run down the right wing by attacking player Maleah Evans which lead to the goal after defender Joelle Fong-Pedrosa put away a cross in by Evans and sent City College through to their second playoff game.
“There has never been a moment in this season in which I have not felt confident in this amazing team,” said attacking player Yuridia Corona. “The goal conceived by Joelle against Reedley is an amazing example of what our team can do when we show confidence in each other and forwards connect with the midfield.”
After beating Reedley, the side was set to play fifth-seed Fresno on Nov. 22..
The game started well for City and the team felt confident through to the first half according to attacking player Maleah Evans.
“We walked in and after the first half it being 0-0 and having more shots on goal than them we thought this was our game to win,” Evans said.
Evans went on to recollect a lack of focus from the team which lead to the first goal, putting City in a position the side wasn’t used to being in: Having to come back from behind.
The task was too much for the Rams as Fresno found the back of the net again later in the second half.
“Fresno was a great team. We were honestly two great teams fighting out there and it was going to come down to the team who lacked discipline and whoever was going to make the first bad mistake,” attacking player Leslie Murillo said. “And unfortunately, it was us who made two easy mistakes and it cost us the game.”
Despite the team giving it their all to the end, Fresno ended the game on top, ending City’s season.
“Practicing with this team was like going to touch the ball with people you’ve known since high school,” Corona said. “It’s really saddening to get close to people and only be able to see them daily for two years. You really miss it once it’s all done, especially when the season ends much sooner than you thought.”
Although it was a disappointing end to the season, the team was still proud of what they had accomplished through the year.
“We wanted to make this season the best for everyone,” Evans said. “I think we accomplished that.”