Undefeated, Men Head to Playoffs
By Lucas Almeida
On a sunny but chilly Friday, Nov. 9 afternoon, the undefeated City College men’s soccer team sailed past Mission College 6-0. The Rams ended the regular season looking ahead to what they will face next—the NorCal playoffs.
The Rams added their 16th win to their undefeated season with an overall record of 16-0-4 and Coast Conference record of 10-0-4.
All they needed was a solid first half to bring the victory home, scoring four goals and giving the Saints no chance to react in the game.
Satisfied with another solid result, Rams head coach Adam Lucarelli said the last couple of games they’ve played were crucial to prepare his team for the upcoming playoffs.
The Saints, who have had a poor season and a losing record of 2-13-1, tried to hold on against the Rams’ initial pressure. But in the 10th minute, Rams freshman forward Alejandro Garcia noticed the Saints’ goalie ahead of the goal line. Garcia struck the ball powerfully, but it capriciously hit the post, leaving the game leveled at 0-0.
Coach Lucarelli said his team was a bit too anxious through the first 15 minutes of the game to put the ball in the back of the net, as the Rams missed plenty of opportunities to open the scoring.
A few minutes later, however, the team finally seemed to awaken, when left midfielder Ahmed Zaky fought for ball possession near the goal line and tapped the ball slowly into the goal.
Mission’s defenders kicked it out in an attempt to avoid the ball going in for a score, but the referee stopped the game and confirmed the goal after talking to one of his assistants. The confusing play left the Rams up 1-0, and Zaky happy he to have scored his second goal of the season.
“It was a miscommunication between the defenders, but I tried hard and never gave up for the ball,” Zaky said. “That’s what I did, I fought for the ball and scored.”
The Rams kept the momentum. A couple of minutes after the first score, Alejandro Garcia got the ball off of a rebound by controlling it on his chest. Garcia then volleyed the ball across the goal line, giving the Saints’ goalie no chance. The Rams went ahead 2-0.
The score just kept rolling for the Rams. who scored two more goals in the next 20 minutes.
Before Lucarelli changed his starting offensive line-up of Alejandro Garcia and Alfredo Castaneda, in the 27th minute Garcia assisted Castaneda, who dribbled past the defenders to score the Rams’s third goal of the afternoon.
Arrnulfo Garcia, Jr., who replaced Alejandro Garcia, scored another another goal for City College after the Saints’ goalie rebounded the ball to Garcia, Jr., after Rams sophomore midfielder Ricardo Guerra struck a free-kick near the 18-yard box. Garcia, Jr., was at the right place at the right time to score the Rams’ fourth goal before the referee whistled the end of the first half.
Sophomore forward Garcia, Jr., was thrilled to help his team by scoring his 14th goal of the season.
“We’ve been practicing all week. That was a good goal. I always try to stay on top and be the leading scorer in the team,” Garcia, Jr., said. “I was marked by a defender and I just hustled as hard as I could to get to the ball and I just scored after a rebound.”
Regardless of the large margin on the scoreboard, the Rams started the second half by maintaining ball possession and looking for more goal opportunities.
Sophomore forward Alfredo Castaneda scored his second goal of the afternoon, and the Rams’ fifth of the game, in the 61st minute, after the referee marked a penalty kick. the penalty was called after sophomore midfielder Juan Palacio was tackled down after dribbling the Saints’ defender into the box.
In the 78th minute, Rams freshman defender Andre Alvarez sent an accurate assist to sophomore forward Juan Miguel Perez, who wrapped up the game scoring by chipping the sixth Rams’ goal over the Mission College goalie.
Rams sophomore goalkeeper Martin De La Torre added another clean sheet to his personal record due to the Saints’ poor offensive line. One of the Rams team leaders, De La Torre, said every game should be taken seriously, despite the large margin of victory and the Saints’ losing record.
“Every game is businesslike, we don’t wanna take any team easy,” De La Torre said. “Now we gotta have that mentality of playoffs, and start preparing for playoffs. That’s all we’re looking forward (to) now.”
Looking ahead, and prepared for the NorCal playoff, the No. 2 goalkeeper in the state is very confident his team is also one of the best teams in the state. De La Torre is confident the Rams will be able to bring the state trophy home.
“I see the team building a lot of team chemistry,” De La Torre said. “And again, especially against these teams (such as Mission College), that give you so much time, it makes it easy for us to build team chemistry and build enough plays. Playing against these types of teams, towards the end of (the regular season), I think it sets a pretty good positive attitude . . . hopefully, we will have good results in the . . . playoffs.”
Since the Rams finished the regular season with the second best record in the state, they are automatically qualified to begin play Nov. 20 in the second round of the NorCal playoffs. Due to publication times, The Guardsman will not be able to disclose which opponent the Rams will face.
Follow Almeida on Twitter: @lpa_sfreporter