Taft College Cougars Men's Soccer

Latest News

Cougar Soccer Teams Get Mixed Results
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
November 21, 2015

Taft College got mixed results in the first round of state soccer playoffs.

The Cougar women, playing at home, defeated Lassen College 3-1 to advance to the quarter-finals while the men, playing on the road, lost 2-1 to Feather River College.

The women, champions of the Central Valley Conference, got to play rival Fresno for a third time, but results were not available for the print edition because of the paper’s holiday printing schedule.

Two freshmen were responsible for the Cougars’ three goals.

Forward Carla Salazar scored two goals and midfielder Robin Peiler the other.

The first goal of the match came in the 38th minute when Salazar took a pass from Sierra Sagasta on the right side and had a clear shot that went over Lassen goalkeeper Amelia Landry’s head into the net.

That was the only goal of the first half.

TC scored twice in the second half, the first coming in the 49th minute when Peiler broke free on the left side and took a crossing pass from sophomore forward Ariel Manzano.

Salazar scored the final goal, getting an assist from Arielle Stoyanow, breaking free down the middle and rifling a shot past Landry, who had nine saves on the day.

The Cougars played Lassen in the regular season and won that one 3-0.

In the waning minutes Lassen’s Kiera Morgan scored from the right side off an assist from Maria Sanchez. That goal halted TC’s string of eight consecutive shutouts.

“These girls have a great attitude,” head coach Myisha Cutrona said. “They keep each other in line on their own. They’ve taken control on their own. That’s nice to see.”

Men lose
The Cougar men, seeded No. 9, ended their season on a sour note, losing to No. 8 Feather River 2-1. Details were not available.

The men finished the season 13-6-2 while Feather River advances with a 14-5-1 record

Cougar Sports Teams Aim for Playoffs
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
November 9, 2015

All three of Taft College’s fall sports teams are gearing up for a run to the playoffs, but all three also face tough regular season wrap-ups.

The Cougars were pushed to five sets last Friday but managed to get past a stubborn Merced team to solidify their hold on second place in the Central Valley Conference.

Taft improved to 9-3 in the conference and 15-11 overall heading into the final two matches of the regular season. Both are at home: tonight against undefeated eight-time conference champs Fresno City College, and Thursday when College of the Sequoias comes to town. Both swept the Cougars in the first round of conference play.

First serve for both matches in the Al Baldock Cougar Sports Center is at 6 p.m.

At Merced Friday the TC had to fight back after Merced won the opening set 25-21 with the Cougars grabbing the second 25-13 and looking like they might run away with the match.

However, the Blue Devils scrapped back to win a hard-fought third set 25-23 to take command again.
With their backs to the wall the Cougars cruised to a 25-14 win in the fourth set to force a tie-breaker they won 15-9.

Statistics were unavailable.

Reedley did the Cougars a favor by knocking Sequoias out of a second place tie with the Cougars.

As the conference heads into its final week the standings look like this:
Fresno 12-0 (18-4)
Taft 9-3 (15-11)
Sequoias 8-4 (10-6)
Reedley 8-4 (12-12)
Merced 6-6 (9-10)
Porterville 3-8 (3-12)
West Hills-Coalinga 1-11 (1-13)
Columbia 0-11 (2-21).

Both Cougar soccer teams have tough assignments in the final week of conference play.

The men made things more difficult for themselves Friday by losing a 2-1 heartbreaker at Fresno City College that snarled the CVC leadership. Taft, Fresno and West Hills-Lemoore are all 3-2 in the conference. The Cougars (3-2, 12-5-2 overall) are at Lemoore (3-2, 12-7-0) Friday, a team they beat at home in the first round, while Fresno is at hapless Sequoias (1-4, 3-13-2).

If the Cougars beat Lemoore and Fresno beats Sequoias, Fresno will claim the conference title by virtue of its two wins over Taft – 1-0 in Taft and 2-1 in Fresno.

But all three should make the playoffs. The loss to Fresno means the Cougars will have a lower seed and a tougher assignment in the first round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Cougar women (4-0 CVC, 11-5-1 overall) will wrap up the regular season with two conference matches this week – at winless West Hills (0-4, 0-12) this afternoon and at home Friday against Fresno City College (3-1, 15-1-3).

Cougar Men Soccer Blank COS
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
November 2, 2015

Taft College has no easy task as the Cougar men’s soccer team prepares for a major challenge in their final two Central Valley Conference matches.

Nobody knows that more than head coach Angelo Cutrona, who’s taking a positive approach into the final two games.

“I’m really excited, and I think our players are too,” he said. “I think it’s a great way to finish the regular season and get ready for the playoffs. Both of these games will have a playoff feel to them no matter how they turn out. We feel very good about our chances.”

The Cougars tuned up for trips to Fresno (2-2-0 CVC, 10-5-4 overall) on Friday and West Hills-Lemoore (2-2-0, 11-7-0) a week later as the regular season winds down and teams jockey for playoff spots.

Taft has won seven of its last eight games and tied the other, so Cutrona feels his team has some momentum.

“I think our team is peaking at the right time. I really like that we are playing two playoff type teams to finish. No matter what happens it’s going to go down to that last game to decide who wins the conference.”

The Cougars lead the CVC with a 3-1 record, and are 12-4-2 overall.

They tuned up for the final push by defeating College of the Sequoias 4-0 last Friday.

Danny Ortiz scored his team-leading eighth and ninth goals to lead the way.

Aldahir Perez scored the first goal of the match after taking a pass from Luis Martinez and Fabian Roman made it 2-0 with an assist from Axel Cruz before Ortiz finished off the Giants with back-to-back goals. Perez got his team-leading sixth assist on the first and Bryan Henriquez recorded the assist on the final score. It was his second assist of the season.

Goalkeeper Ricky Montoy recorded another shutout, his ninth of the season. He has 17 saves on the season and has allowed just eight goals.

In winning seven of their last eight matches the Cougars have six shutouts and have outscored their opponents 17-2.

Cougar Men defeat Lemoore
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 26, 2015

In a showdown between the top two teams in the conference, the Taft College men’s soccer team got the edge when they defeated West Hills Lemoore 2-1 at home Friday afternoon.

By winning the match, the Cougars are 10-4-2 overall, 2-1 in the Central Valley Conference and are 6-2-1 at home.

The victory also puts Taft in a tie for first place with West Hills Lemoore with six points each.

All of the scoring in Friday’s match took place in the first half with Jovany Cachola scoring one of the goals on Aldahir Perez’s assist.

Danny Ortiz with the help of Enrique Garcia’s assist had the other goal for the Cougars.

Taft College returns home to face College of the Sequoias Friday. The match begins at 3 p.m.

Cougar Men Host Lemoore/ Women Cruise to easy Victory over West Hills
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 22, 2015

If Taft College is to have a shot at repeating as champions of the Central Valley Conference the Cougars will have to put in a top effort today when league-leader West Hills-Lemoore comes to town.

The match begins at 3 p.m. on the Taft High soccer field at Tenth and San Emidio.

West Hills is 2-0 in the conference and 11-5 overall while Taft is 1-1 and 9-4-2 after scoring late Tuesday to tie San Bernardino Valley College at home.

The Cougars are ranked 20th and the Eagles 22nd in the state power ratings. TC gets the nod because of strength of schedule.

Taft lost to Fresno but Lemoore beat the Rams, so the teams come in pretty even.

The key issue for the Cougars is scoring. They manage to get opportunities but have had trouble all season finding the net.

Against SBVC on Wednesday a missed penalty kick in the second half while trailing 1-0 was particularly troublesome.

San Bernardino got their lone goal when Roberto Morales took a pass from Aldahir Madrid on the left side to score what looked like the game-winner.

However, Gustavo Campos scored an unassisted goal in the waning moments to preserve a 1-1 tie.

The Cougars travel to Ukiah on Monday to play a non-conference match with Mendocino College (8-4-2). After that they host College of the Sequoias in a CVC match on Oct. 30.

Both Cougar Soccer Teams Capture Shutout Victories
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 19, 2015

The Cougar women won their Central Valley Conference opener with a 4-0 home victory over College of the Sequoias while the men were on the road in Stockton where they won 3-0 over San Joaquin Delta in a non-conference match.

Both teams are at home today in a doubleheader at the Taft High soccer complex at Tenth and San Emidio streets.

The women will open up things at 1 p.m. when they host West Hills-Lemoore. Taft comes in with a 1-0 conference record and 6-5-1 overall while the Golden Eagles are still looking for their first win of the year. They are 0-1 in the conference and 0-9 overall.

The men take the field at 3 against San Bernardino College in a non-conference match. The Cougars are 9-4-1 while the visitors, who play in the Foothill Conference, come in with a 5-4-6 record.

Carla Salazar had a big day Friday in the win over Sequoias with two goals as a follow-up to the hat trick she had in the Cougars’ previous match.

The freshman forward from Bakersfield High scored the ice-breaker moments before the halftime whistle, taking a pass from Arielle Stoyanow.

Seven minutes into the second half sophomore midfielder Stoyanow scored on a pass from freshman Shandy Hopeau.

Salazar found the back of the net again in the 66th minute, getting an assist from Sierra Sagasta to make it 3-0.

Sagasta, a sophomore from Bakersfield High, adding the icing on the victory with an unassisted goal in the 69th minute.

CVC standings:
Fresno 2-0 (11-0-3)
Taft 1-0 (6-5-1)
West Hills 0-1 (0-9-0)
Sequoias 0-2 (4-10-0)

Men cruise
The Cougar men won their fourth match in a row in Stockton. All four were crossover matches with the Big 8 conference.

TC spread the wealth around.

Danny Ortiz scored the opening goal all a pass from Aldahir Perez, who also got the assist on the second goal, which was scored by Daniel Roman.

Steven Bogden put the finishing touches on the scoring when he found the back of the net on a pass from Jesus Vidal.

The win pushed the Cougar record to 9-4-1 overall. Delta saw its record drop to 3-9-3.

Today’s foe, San Bernardino, has the unusual distinction of playing six ties. The Wolverines are coming off a two-match winning streak.

The non-leaguer will help tune up the Cougars for a crucial conference match Friday when they host CVC leader West Hills-Lemoore.

The CVC has historically been a tussle between Taft and Fresno but the Eagles are in the catbird’s seat at 2-0 (11-5 overall). Taft and Fresno are both 1-1, Fresno’s loss come at the hands of the Eagles.

TC Soccer Teams Win/Tie
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 9, 2015

Taft College won and tied on the soccer field last Friday with the men defeating Cosumnes River 1-0 in a rough match in Sacramento while the women staged a big comeback to pull out a 4-4 tie at Moorpark College behind Sierra Sagasta’s hat trick.

The men got an unassisted goal in the 60th minute from Danny Ortiz for the only point of the match that had an ugly ending with two Cosumnes River players ejected for red cards, one in the aftermath of the only goal.

CRC was whistled for 18 fouls, 11 coming in the second half.

The Cougars had the edge in shots on goal 7 to 5.

With the win the Cougars improve to 7-4-1 heading into today’s crossover with the Big 8 Conference in Modesto (7-5-0). TC will host San Joaquin Delta (3-8-3) in the last of the four crossovers on Friday.

At Moorpark Friday the Cougar women got off to a slow start while the Raiders came out hot, scoring four goals before Sagasta took a pass from Ariel Manzano in the last minute of the first half to score Taft’s first goal.

The Cougars dominated the second half, scoring three times and preventing Moorpark from threatening the TC net.

Sagasta scored Taft’s second goal 10 minutes into the second half off a pass from Carla Salazar, Alexia Gonzalez scored in the 70th minute with Manzano getting her second assist of the match and Sagasta recorded a hat trick with the final goal in the 88th minute. Shandy Hapeau got the assist in the tying goal.

TC will take a 5-5-1 record into Friday’s Central Valley Conference opener in Visalia against College of the Sequoias (4-9-0).

Cougar Soccer Teams Shut Out Their Opponents at Home
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 8, 2015

Both Taft College soccer teams scored home victories Wednesday but hit the road Friday.

The Cougar women scored all three goals in the first half as they cruised to a 3-0 non-conference victory over College of the Desert behind a solid game from Carla Salazar.

The freshman forward from Bakersfield High scored two goals and had the assist on the other.
Salazar got the scoring going nine minutes into the match off a pass from Alexia Gonzalez.

Twenty minutes later sophomore forward Ariel Manzano found the back of the net on a pass from Salazar, who finished the scoring in the 36th minute with her second goal. Sierra Sagasta, a teammate when the two played at BHS, got the assist.

With the win the Cougars evened their record at 5-5. Desert is 7-5-1.

Today the Cougars are in Moorpark (4-1-4) for another non-leaguer. They plunge into Central Valley Conference action a week later in Visalia against College of the Sequoias (3-8-1).

Men win 2-0
In a crossover match with the Big 8 Conference, the Cougar men defeated winless American River 2-0 to improve the Cougar overall record to 6-4-1.

Danny Ortiz scored the first goal on a pass from Daniel Roman, and Isaac Campos the clincher on an assist from Fabian Roman.

The Cougars get their second Big 8 crossover today with a trip to Sacramento to take on Cosumnes River College (2-7-3) before hosting Modesto J.C. next Tuesday on the Taft High soccer field at Tenth and San Emidio.

Both Cougar Teams Lose 0-1
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 1, 2015

Taft College’s soccer teams have had trouble all season finding the back of the net. Both teams seem to get plenty of opportunities but have been unable to finish.

Another factor is both teams have been playing some of the top teams in the state.

That was the case this week when the Cougar women lost to undefeated Rio Hondo at home while the men ventured south to play perennial southern California powerhouse Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga. Both of those teams rank in the top 10 in California power rankings.
For the women, who host College of the Desert next Tuesday, Rio Hondo’s Sabrina Gonzalez scored the only goal of the match in the first half to drop the Cougars to 4-5. Rio Hondo pushed its record to 6-0-2.

All five Cougar losses have been 1-0.

Chaffey improved its record to 8-1-2 while the Cougar men dropped to 5-3-1 heading into today’s Central Valley Conference match with rival Fresno City College. That one will be played at 3 o’clock on the Taft High soccer field at Tenth and San Emdio.

Fresno (4-4-4), like TC having an uncharacteristic slow start, lost to CVC leader West Hills-Lemoore, so both teams will come into today’s match-up hungry.

The Cougars and Lemoore are both 1-0 in the conference with Fresno and Sequoias at 0-1.

After the Fresno match the Cougars will play three consecutive with teams in the northern California Big 8 conference, beginning next Tuesday when American River of Sacramento comes to town.

Since the CVC has just four soccer-playing members the conference plays three crossover matches with the Big 8.

Cougar Soccer Teams Prepare for Conference Grind with Home Games
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 24, 2015

Both Taft College soccer teams continue to prepare for the Central Valley Conference grind and both were victorious this week.

The Cougar women pushed their record above .500 on Tuesday with a 3-0 victory over a tough Lassen College team.

Head coach Myisha Cutrona likes what she sees.

“I’m really happy with this group,” she said. “We have a team of soccer players. Our returnees are very disciplined and that makes it easier for the freshmen to buy into our system.”

Despite the early season record “we have not played a team better than us. Our problem is we just aren’t finishing. We’re having trouble finding the back of the net. I keep telling them to take more shots.”

Team leaders include sophomores Sierra Sagasta, Arielle Stoyanow, Alexia Gonzales and Moani Rivers.

Depth is an issue but Cutrona is pleased with the team’s overall strength.

“We are 15-strong with the four others able to play well because of those that surround them.”

TC will get another good test today when Los Angeles Pierce College (3-0-3) comes to town.

The conference looks strong with the exception of winless West Hills-Lemoore. Fresno as usual leads the pack with a 5-0-3 record with Taft at 4-3, Sequoias at 3-4 and West Hills 0-4.

Men start CVC
The Cougar man, meanwhile, open conference play today with a trip to Visalia where they will take on College of the Sequoias. The Giants are 3-4 in a conference that appears stronger from top to bottom.

West Hills-Lemoore (6-3) is setting the pace followed by Taft (4-2-1), Fresno (4-3-3) and Sequoias.

In Wednesday’s non-conference match with El Camino the Cougars found themselves in a 1-0 hole early when the visitors scored a goal in the 17th minute, but rebounded to take a 2-1 lead at halftime on goals from Gustavo Campos (23rd) and Colby Evans (28th). Jesus Vidal got the assist on the first and Campos on the second.

The Cougars finished off the scoring on an unassisted goal from Danny Ortiz.

Taft played solid defense, keeping El Camino from threatening the Cougar net most of the day.
El Camino got a red card at the 85-minute mark but the Cougars backed off and focused on defense.

The Cougars have a tough schedule next week – traveling south to play undefeated Chaffey (6-0-2) before diving into conference play at home on Friday when rival Fresno comes to town.

Cougar's Get Revenge Against Defending State Champions
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 17, 2015

Taft College got a measure of revenge Tuesday when the Cougar men’s soccer team shut out defending state champion Cerritos 2-0 on the home field.

The Falcons beat the Cougars 1-0 in last season’s state semi-finals. It was a loss that spoiled Taft’s perfect record and a shot at, not only a state championship, but a national title. Had TC won and gone on to beat Mt. San Antonio in the championship match the Cougars would have been No. 1 in the national coaches poll. TC beat both Cerritos and Mt. SAC in regular season play.

The loss for Cerritos added to a stunning start for the defending state champs, who are still looking for its first win. After ruling the California soccer scene last year the Falcons find themselves 0-4-2.

After a scoreless first half TC got goals in the 65th and 83rd minutes to seal the win.

Luis Martinez, a freshman midfielder from Porterville, drilled home the ice-breaker on a pass from sophomore forward Aldahir Perez (Shafter High) to give the Cougars all the scoring they would need.

Perez clinched the victory with a goal of his own with seven minutes remaining, getting an assist from sophomore defender Enrique Garcia (Ridgeview High).

The Cougars are 3-2-0 heading into today’s match against Las Positas College in Livermore. They will host El Camino College next Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Women beat East L.A
Meanwhile, the Cougar women’s team evened its non-conference record at 3-3 with a 2-1 victory at East Los Angeles College.

All of the scoring was in the first half.

In the 10th minute Arielle Stoyanow, a sophomore midfielder from Hawaii, scored an unassisted goal, and 20 minutes later Stoyanow sent a pass that sophomore midfielder Alexia Gonzalez (Highland High) put into the back of the net for what proved to be the game-winner.

The loss was ELA’s fourth without a win.

The Cougars take a week off to prepare for a four-match home streak, beginning next Tuesday when Lassen College comes to town. After that it will be Los Angeles Pierce on Sept. 25, Rio Hondo on Sept. 29 and College of the Desert on Oct. 6.

Cougar Men's Soccer Hosts Defending State Champions
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 15, 2015

The Cougars host defending state champion Cerritos College at 4 p.m. at the Taft High soccer complex at Tenth and San Emidio streets.

In last year’s state semi-finals the Falcons defeated the Cougars 1-0, spoiling TC’s undefeated season and quest for state and national championships.

The matchup is crucial for both teams looking for an ignition point on the young season.

Both are off to uncharacteristic slow starts. Taft is 2-2 while the Falcons are winless at 0-3-2.

“We know they are hungry,” said Cougar head coach Angelo Cutrona. “It’s been a tough start for them so they will be pointing for us.”

The Cougars, likewise, are hungry.

A young them with just seven sophomores they are looking for the right combination of personnel and a way to find a spark that will ignite the level of intensity Cutrona wants his team to be at.

“Cerritos is not the same team they were last year,” Cutrona said. “Neither are we. Our boys had better have a clue. This game for them is a turnaround for their season.

“And we have to find out own identity. We need to come out of the gate with intensity and maintain that intensity throughout the game.

Loss at Oxnard
The Cougars tuned up for Cerritos with a 3-1 loss at Oxnard College last Friday.

“We fell behind early,” Cutrona said. “They scored two early goals and we got one back but they scored again. We dominated the second half but just couldn’t finish.”

Oxnard scored in the fifth and sixth minutes to put the Cougars in a hole early.
In non-conference action Central Valley Conference teams stack up like this: West Hills-Lemoore is 4-2, Fresno 3-2-1, Taft 2-2 and Sequoias 1-4-1.

The conference season begins Sept. 25 in Visalia against Sequoias. Before that the Cougars have non-conference matches Friday at Las Positas College in Livermore and a Sept. 23 home date with El Camino College.

The Cougars are currently ninth in the state power rankings.

Taft College Sports Roundup-Volleyball and Two Soccer Teams Lose
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 3, 2015

It’s been a rough week for Taft College’s fall sports teams.

The volleyball team and both soccer teams lost home matches early in the week.

The Cougar volleyball team lost twice in a round robin TC hosted with northern California powerhouses Sacramento City and Foothill.

The soccer teams both lost non-conference matches to visiting Santa Barbara City College by identical 1-0 scores.

In the opening match of the round robin, the Cougars lost 3-1 to Sac City.

The visitors won the first two sets 25-17 and 25-15 before the Cougars surged back to capture the third set 25-19. The Panthers polished things off by winning the fourth set 25-19

The Cougars were on the defensive throughout against the much taller Panthers. Janell Molina led the effort with 12 digs followed by Halle Neher with 7, Madeline Griffith with 6, Kamalani Kahele 4, Nalani Kekuawela and Virgie Salanoa-Sagapolu 3.

In attacks the Cougars managed just 30 kills with Kekuawela leading the way with 12. Salanoa-Sagapolu had 7 and Sky Parker 5.

Setter Griffith tossed up 29 assists.

TC managed just three blocks against Sac City’s tall front line.

In the day’s final match Foothill swept the Cougars 25-20, 25-16 and 25-14.

Neher led the defense with 12 digs followed by Skyler Taumua with 10 and Griffith with 9.

Kekuawela had 15 kills to lead the offense and Griffith had 23 assists.

The twin loss evened TC’s record to 2-2 heading into a long road trip the rest of the month.

Both Taft College soccer teams lost 1-0 matches here Tuesday to visiting Santa Barbara City College.

Although both Vaquero teams were more physical and that proved to be the difference, the Cougars were able to keep the matches close.

The Cougar women, who opened the season last Saturday with a 2-1 win over San Diego City College, this time out were unable to seriously threaten the SBCC goal.

The Vaqueros, meanwhile, recorded their third consecutive shutout of the young season.

The only goal came in the 36th minute when freshman defender Baylee Vincent shook loose on the left side and fired a clearing shot from a Cougar defender into the left side of the net from about 30 yards out. The winning goal came moments after an SBCC throw-in.

SBCC coach John Sisterson, in a quote posted on the school’s sports website, said Vincent’s game-winner “was like a missile. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen her kick it with her right foot.”

Vaquero goalie Alex Camarillo and her defenders denied the Cougars.

The Cougar men lost a heartbreaker on a penalty kick in the 75th minute.

Cougar Soccer Team's Host Santa Barbara Today
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 1, 2015

Both of Taft College’s soccer teams will christen the home season today when they host Santa Barbara City College at the Taft High soccer complex at Tenth and San Emidio streets.

For the Cougar women, who play the 1 p.m. opening match, it will be their second outing of the season. They opened the campaign last Friday by edging San Diego City College 2-1 at home.

The TC men, meanwhile, will get their season off the ground at 3 p.m.

Santa Barbara’s teams are typically among the top tier in southern California. They had mixed results in their season openers last week.

On Thursday the SBCC women defeated Golden West 2-0 while their male counterparts dropped a 2-0 decision to Los Angeles Harbor on Friday.

In their win over San Diego, both goals were scored by sophomore midfielder Ariel Manzano in the first half.

The first came in the 20th minute on a pass from sophomore Arielle Stoyanow, the second seven minutes later on an assist from freshman Robyn Peiler.

San Diego countered with a goal in the 65th minute but the Cougar defense preserved the victory.
Both Cougar teams are young and coming off strong seasons a year ago.

The men were undefeated heading into the state championships before losing a 1-0 heartbreaker to eventual state champ Cerritos in the semi-finals.

The women, meanwhile, pulled off two big upsets before being knocked out of the playoffs.

After opening today against Santa Barbara, the Cougar men will host Los Angeles Mission Friday at 3 p.m.

Noteworthy: (Men) Defending state champ Cerritos had a rough opener, losing to Rio Hondo 4-2 last Thursday before playing Oxnard to a 3-all standoff on Saturday. Mt. SAC, which lost 3-1 to Cerritos in the 2014 men’s title match, got off to a good start by thumping West Valley 5-0 and Las Positas 3-0.

TC will travel to Livermore Sept. 18 to play Las Positas. Central Valley Conference foes Fresno (2-1 over Lake Tahoe) and West Hills-Lemoore (5-2 over Victor Valley) got off on winning notes but Sequoias tied Shasta 1-1. (Women) CVC powerhouse Fresno defeated Mendocino 2-0 and tied Cerritos 2-2. West-Hills Lemoore got clobbered 8-0 by Victor Valley and Sequoias blanked Monterey 3-0.

TC Men's Soccer Has Big Shoes to Fill
Seven Players are Returning From Last Year's Team
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
August 27, 2015

The Taft College men’s soccer team has a big challenge to match the accomplishments of last year’s team which was the fifth Cougar squad to make it to the state championships.

The Cougars were upended in a semi-final to state champion Cerritos College. It was Taft’s only loss of the season.

“I think we will have some difficulty in repeating what we achieved last year,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona. “I thought we were the best team in the nation but we fell just a little short.”

Cerritos and Mt. San Antonio battle for southern California supremacy every year while the Cougars have consistently been top dog in the north. After edging TC 1-0 Cerritos defeated Mt. SAC 3-1 for the state crown.

The Cougars had beaten Cerritos earlier in the season on the Falcons’ home field. This year Cerritos comes to Taft on Sept. 15.

Cutrona and his assistant coaches have seven players returning from that team that also beat Mt. SAC in the regular season.

“We have seven sophomore leaders who will be talking to the new guys about what it’s like to be one of the best,” Cutrona said. “I think by the end of the season we’ll be in the playoffs again.”

His freshmen are learning that college soccer is a big step up.

“They are learning that this is a different level for them,” he said. “On top of that they are having to deal with school now.”

TC began fall semester classes on Monday.

“We have a good group of players. I’m really happy with the way they are working. Our main objective is to give the freshmen some playing time.”

That will begin next Tuesday when perennially strong Santa Barbara City College comes to town for a 3 p.m. season opener.

“You can definitely expect a physical game every time you play Santa Barbara,” Cutrona said. “I know our guys will have some first-game jitters. Santa Barbara will come in with a game under their belt already,”

This year’s edition is different from the 2014 team that took TC to the Final Four for the fifth time. Last year’s team was loaded with sophomores.

“We know we’ll have to do some experimenting,” the coach said. “You can’t bring in a bunch of guys and expect them to fit your style. You have to be flexible and figure out how to adjust your system to fit the talent of the people you have.

Miguel Ibarra - Face of the United Franchise

Miguel Ibarra helps put Minnesota United FC on the map 
By David LA Vaque Star Tribune
May 31, 2015 — 10:43pm

They watch and cheer back home in Lancaster, Calif., where his love for soccer took root. Former coaches and teammates from his alma maters Taft College and the University of California, Irvine meet around televisions or computers and marvel. Even veteran Minnesota United FC teammates can feel like fans in Miguel Ibarra’s presence.

An explosive midfielder with great speed and stamina, Ibarra took a unique and circuitous path from an unknown to the 2014 North American Soccer League most valuable player. Bigger still, last fall he became the first player from a second-tier league in North America to receive a national team call-up in a decade.

The kid who could not garner Division I college interest out of high school found his jersey hanging next to Landon Donovan’s in the locker room. Clint Dempsey presented Ibarra, once cut by Portland of Major League Soccer, a ball signed by the U.S. team after his first appearance in an international match.

And the dream ride continues. On Sunday, Ibarra, 25, is expected to receive another national team call-up. He will travel with the team for friendly matches in the Netherlands on June 5 and Germany on June 10. United FC teammate Christian Ramirez considers Ibarra, in his fourth year with the team, “the face” of the NASL. His United FC jersey is the team’s top seller and 75 percent of the original shipment already has sold.

United’s Miguel Ibarra is the first player from a second-tier league in North America to be called up to the national team in a decade.

Minnesota’s recent selection for an MLS franchise means Ibarra, who has signed to play with United through the 2016 season, could lead local soccer into a new era.

With success came naysayers. By promoting a player such as Ibarra, national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann is poking at MLS, critics contend, by showing a willingness to give deserving players an opportunity regardless of pedigree. If Ibarra works out, Klinsmann is a genius. If not, what’s the harm?

“People are going to look at him differently now, so he has to send the signal out that he’s ready to take on the challenge,” Klinsmann said. “He has to confirm every week why he is with the national team.”

Once again, Ibarra is ignoring the doubters. Measuring 5-7, 145 pounds, he has always been told he is too small to succeed. He climbed from a community college to a Division I program, then from the second-tier NASL to the national team.
“I never let it affect me,” Ibarra said. “Always working hard, having faith and doing my job have always helped me. Not giving up on my dreams is a big thing for me. Now that the national team happened for me, I believe it even more.”

Making good on hype
The reserved Ibarra has not allowed success to warp his mind. He lives with Ramirez in a downtown Minneapolis apartment complex. Both of them wear superhero T-shirts under their game jerseys, Ibarra sporting a Batman model that earns him the nickname in some circles.

“He’s the same,” said Ramirez, who wears a Superman T-shirt. “Couple more pairs of shoes. He posts a lot more national team photos. Sometimes I tell him, ‘Hey, sometimes you can post a Minnesota photo or a photo of your parents.’ But I think it’s because he’s living a dream, and that’s what comes with it.”

In some ways, Ibarra is making good on the hype surrounding him since his high school days. As a senior he played with a Premier Development League team instead of Lancaster High School, a bump in notoriety that quickly got out of hand.

“Some people saw a special talent and then talk started about D.C. United and Mexico having interest,” said Taft coach Angelo Cutrona, who knew the rumors were bogus when he “heard Manchester United was interested. There were a lot of nobodies saying big things and a lot of somebodies not noticing.”

In reality, Ibarra’s soccer future came down to trying out for the Chicago Fire of MLS, which expressed some interest, and Taft. A late change of heart sent Ibarra to the California community college. He was shy and quiet, something that continued at every stop.
“He’s a notorious slow starter,” Cutrona said. “Sometimes it takes him five to 10 minutes to get on the ball and do something. [Lionel] Messi is like that. Miguel feels out his environment and then you see what he can do.”
In games Ramirez tries to get Ibarra the ball right away to provide a spark.

“Sometimes if the game is not coming to him, he won’t go find it,” Ramirez said. “And if he’s not finding it, he’ll be quiet and other teams will be like, ‘Where was Miguel?’ But all it takes is one play for him to impact a game.”

Klinsmann said, “With every camp, you could see him growing and taking people on. From the first time until now, he’s grown tremendously. He’s a curious kid who wants to learn, grow and see where his highest level is.”

Said Ibarra: “At my last camp, Jurgen said, ‘OK, now we’re starting to see the Miguel Ibarra that plays for Minnesota United.’ Once I get comfortable, I go.”

Better managed than coached
Ibarra’s technical abilities, his touch on the ball, his passing and finishing skills, are strong. But he always has been a man apart tactically, that is, the way he employs those considerable skills within a team concept.

Cutrona said he challenged Ibarra to “think before he moved” rather than “just kicking the ball to him and seeing what happens.” He was named the Central Valley Conference most valuable player.

George Kuntz, Ibarra’s coach at UC-Irvine, took a different approach.

“I managed Miguel through college, I didn’t coach him,” Kuntz said. “We gave him a lot of freedom to go forward and attack.”

As a senior, Ibarra was named to the All-Big West first team and earned conference co-offensive player of the year honors.

“All the coaches I’ve had have done the same at first, they try to coach me, and I listen, but I find myself all over the place,” Ibarra said. “It’s just kind of natural. Coaches put me at forward or wherever and I’m just all over the field. At first when I came in here, Manny [Lagos] tried to coach me. But then he said, ‘You know what? Just play your game. You’re better when you just play your game.’ ”

Not that Lagos is more consultant than coach. In 2013 he helped Ibarra turn an early-season slump into NASL Best XI honors.

“Part of coaching at this level is a little bit of both,” Lagos said. “If I’m being honest, Miguel has had to be managed, in a good way. Ultimately, it has to be within the context of what the team is doing. He’s really embraced that and I don’t think it’s a coincidence his goals and assists have gone up because of it.”

MLS star in Minnesota?
His profile heightened by national team call-ups and league MVP honors, Ibarra could find other leagues vying for his services. He is under contract for an undisclosed amount of money, believed to be approaching $100,000, though any team could buy him out plus a transfer fee.

“There are definitely a lot of teams interested,” Ibarra said. “I talked to Jurgen about it, too. He said, ‘The teams all know your situation so if they want you, they will talk to Minnesota. But if not, I have no problem. You can stay in the NASL and keep playing how you’re playing. That’s not going to change my decision to call you or not.’ ”

Another reason Ibarra might not need to go to MLS is that the league might come to him. Minnesota United FC was named an expansion franchise, pending a stadium deal, that could start play in 2017.

“That’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about and considering,” Ibarra said. “As of right now I’m just more focused on this season. But it would be great to be here with Minnesota, with the team that opened its doors to me, and keep going with them. It would be amazing.”

TC's Edgar Contreras Signs with UCLA:

UCLA Men's Soccer Signs Top-Ranked Recruiting Class Bruins to bring in 10 standouts for the 2013 season

Febrary 11, 2013

Los Angeles, Calif. - UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo has landed the top-ranked recruiting class in the country, signing seven standouts to National Letters of Intent and bringing in three talented transfers for the 2013 season.

The Bruins' latest class features five players ranked in the top 25 in College Soccer News's list of Top Recruits for the 2013 season, including the No. 1 overall player in the country. Two players competed for the U.S. at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, while another competed for New Zealand. Overall, seven players have experience playing with their respective Youth National Teams while five have earned NSCAA Youth Boys All-American honors. UCLA's 2013 class has been named the No. 1 class in the country by Top Drawer Soccer.

"Our 2013 recruiting class is comprised of very talented players," head coach Jorge Salcedo said. "There is some skill and technique, athleticism and experience, but above all it is a group that has a strong desire to be the best soccer players they can be. Our staff is very excited to work with each of them. This elite recruiting class is a byproduct of a lot of work from several individuals within our Athletic Department and I would like to sincerely thank them for their assistance throughout the process."

This is the fourth time that Salcedo has brought in the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in his tenure as UCLA head coach, signing the top-rated classes in 2004, 2006, 2010 and now 2013. The Bruins have also won six Pac-12 titles under Salcedo's leadership, have been to two College Cups (2006 and 2011) and have reached the NCAA Quarterfinals four times (2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011). In addition, Salcedo has been named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year on four occasions and has produced 18 MLS Draft picks in his nine years as head coach.

2013 UCLA Men's Soccer Signing Class






Previous School/Club Team

Michael Amick




Sunnyvale, Calif.

The Harker School/De Anza Force

Gregory Antognoli




Fresno, Calif.

San Joaquin Memorial HS/California Odyssey

Paul Arriola




Chula Vista, Calif.

Mater Dei HS/Arsenal FC/LA Galaxy

Edgar Contreras




Lamont, Calif.

Taft College

Kevin De La Torre




Winchester, Calif.

Temecula Preparatory School/Chivas USA/Pateadores

Michael Griswold




San Diego, Calif.

Mt. Carmel HS/San Diego Surf

Willie Raygoza




South El Monte, Calif.

South El Monte HS/LA Galaxy

Nathan Smith




Clovis, Calif.

Buchanon HS/California Odyssey/LA Galaxy

Jordan Vale




Auckland, New Zealand

Syracuse University/Waitakere United

Gage Zerboni




San Clemente, Calif.

San Clemente HS/West Coast Fútbol Club

Michael Amick
Sunnyvale, Calif. (The Harker School/De Anza Force)
Defender - 6-0, 165

Earned two varsity letters in soccer at The Harker School (San Jose, Calif.) under head coach Shaun Tsakiris, who played at UCLA from 1997-2000...ranked the No. 18 club player in the country by Top Drawer Soccer...also ranked No. 15 on College Soccer News's list of Top 150 Recruits for 2013...member of the U.S. U-18 National Team throughout 2012...competed for the U.S. at the 2012 Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal...also participated in the U.S. U-18 European training camp, earning caps in friendly matches against the Netherlands U-18 National Team, Borussia Dortmund's U-18 Academy team, Club Brugge's U-19 Team and Feyenoord Rotterdam's U-19 team...scored the game-winning goal against Borussia Dortmund and scored the USA's lone goal against Club Brugge...participated in two friendly matches against Canada in November of 2012, helping the U.S. earn a win and a draw against Canada's U-18 National Team...captained the De Anza Force Academy Team for three years...named to the U.S. Soccer U-15/16 Starting XI for the 2011-12 season...2012 NSCAA Youth Boys All-American.

Gregory Antognoli
Fresno, Calif. (San Joaquin Memorial HS/California Odyssey)
Forward - 6-0, 165

Transfer from Cornell University who will enter the 2013 season as a freshman...attended San Joaquin Memorial High School (Fresno, Calif.), scoring 20 goals as a freshman playing on varsity...named a first-team All-Valley selection as a freshman...ranked No. 94 on College Soccer News's list of Top 150 Recruits for 2012...four-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer...invited U.S. U-18 National Team training camp at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. in Nov. 2010...member of the 2011 SuperElite tour of Europe...competed at the 2010 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland...scored 56 goals in 3 ½ seasons of USSF Development Academy play with club team California Odyssey...currently playing for the Fresno Fuego of the USL Premier Development League...member of ODP Cal-North State Team (2006-07) and Region IV Team (2008 Costa Rica roster).

Paul Arriola
Chula Vista, Calif. (Mater Dei HS/Arsenal FC/LA Galaxy)
Forward - 5-7, 140

Ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the country by College Soccer News...also ranked No. 8 recruit in the country by Top Drawer Soccer...two-time NSCAA Youth Boys All-American (2011-12)...2012 NSCAA Youth Boys Player of the Year...consistent member of the U.S. National Team, competing for the U.S. U-14, U-15, U-17 and U-18 National Teams...started in both of the U-18's Friendly matches against Canada in November of 2012, recording an assist in the team's 2-2 draw in the second leg...earned a cap in a European Friendly match against the Club Brugge U-19 Academy Team in September of 2012, playing all 90 minutes...played for the U.S. at the 2011 U-17 World Cup in Mexico, starting three matches and recording an assist while helping the team reach the Round of 16...was on the U.S. roster for the 2011 U-17 CONCACAF Championship, but did not see game time due to a nagging injury... competed for the U.S. U-17 95's at the 2011 Mondial Minimes Montaigu Tournament in Montaigu, France...joined the U.S. U-17 Men's National Team Residency program in the fall of 2010...played in one match for the U.S. U-17's in 2010 against Turkey at the Nike International Friendlies...competed for club teams Chula Vista Rangers U-8 through U-16, Arsenal FC U-16/18 and LA Galaxy U-18.

Edgar Contreras
Lamont, Calif. (Taft College/Arvin HS)
Defender - 6-0, 185

Transfer from Taft College who will enter the 2013 season as a junior...attended Taft for two years, playing under head coach Angelo Cutrona...named the CVC Defender of the Year and was a second-team NSCAA All-American while at Taft...attended Arvin High School (Arvin, Calif.), playing soccer under head coach Mauricio Lobos and football under head coach Edgar Mares...earned All-League honors in soccer at Arvin.

Kevin De La Torre
Winchester, Calif. (Temecula Preparatory School/Chivas USA/Pateadores)
Forward - 5-9, 150

Attended Temecula Preparatory School (Winchester, Calif.), earning a varsity letter in 2009-10...earned Team MVP honors after leading Riverside County with 30 goals...2012 NSCAA Youth Boys All-American...ranked as the No. 37 recruit in the country according to Top Drawer Soccer...also ranked No. 21 on College Soccer News's list of Top 150 Recruits for 2013...member of the U.S. U-17 Men's National Team...competed for the U.S. U-17 95's at the 2011 Mondial Minimes Montaigu Tournament in Montaigu, France...leading goal scorer for the U.S. at the Mondial Minimes Montaigu Tournament...competed for club teams Chivas USA Academy and Pateadores...participated in the 2010 Sum Cup with Chivas USA...helped lead Chivas USA to a third-place finish at the 2011 Generation Adidas Cup, winning the Golden Boot and setting a record for most goals in the competition with nine...scored eight goals in 21 games for Pateadores in 2011-12 and six goals in 12 games in 2012-13...led Pateadores U-15/16 a fifth place finish at the 2012 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week.

Michael Griswold
San Diego, Calif. (Mt. Carmel HS/San Diego Surf)
Defender/Midfielder - 6-3, 185

Attended Mt. Carmel High School (San Diego, Calif.) for four years from 2009-13, earning four varsity letters (2009-13)...has captained Mt. Carmel a 13-4-1 record and a No. 4 ranking in the section in 2012-13...broke the Mt. Carmel single-season record for goals, scoring 28 goals with multiple games still to go in 2012-13...also holds the Mt. Carmel record for career goals with 66...three-year varsity captain for Mt. Carmel...also competed in track and field at Mt. Carmel...broke the 36-year old school record freshman record in the 800m...competed for the San Diego Surf Academy for four years, playing in 90 matches...named team captain of the Surf U-16's in 2010-11... second-leading scorer in 2011-12, scoring six goals for the Surf U-18's.

Willie Raygoza
South El Monte, Calif. (South El Monte HS/LA Galaxy)
Midfielder - 5-8, 140

Attended South El Monte High School (South El Monte, Calif.) for four years (2009-13), earning two varsity letters in soccer...led the team in goals his freshman year in 2009...rated as the No. 9 club player in the country by Top Drawer Soccer...also ranked No. 13 on College Soccer News's list of Top 150 Recruits for 2013... member of the U.S. U-18 Men's National Team in 2012...trained with the U.S. U-18's in January in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and again from March to April in Carson, Calif...competed for the LA Galaxy Youth Academy Team...named team captain of both the LA Galaxy U-16 and U-18 squads...captained the Galaxy to the 2011 U-15/16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Championship, scoring the game-winning goal in the Finals...also won the SoCal Division Championship with the Galaxy U-18's in 2012...helped lead LAFC Chelsea to the 2010 U-14 Dallas Cup.

Nathan Smith
Clovis, Calif. (Buchanon HS/California Odyssey/LA Galaxy)
Defender - 5-10, 140

Attended Buchanon High School in Clovis, Calif...led club team California Odyssey to two national championships...rated as the No. 25 club player in the country by Top Drawer Soccer... also ranked No. 5 on College Soccer News's list of Top 150 Recruits for 2013...three-time NSCAA Youth Boys All-American...consistent member of the U.S. U-17 National Team, earning 23 caps...competed for the U.S. U-17's at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, playing in two matches and helping the U.S. reach the Round of 16...helped lead the U.S. U-17's to the 2011 U-17 CONCACAF Championship, scoring the game-winning goal in the final against Canada...goal against Canada was nominated for 2011 U.S. Soccer Goal of the Year...member of the U.S. U-17 Residency Program from 2009-11...also competed for the U.S. U-15 National Team...competed for club teams California Odyssey and LA Galaxy...led California Odyssey to back-to-back runner-up finishes at the 2009 and 2010 U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15/16 Finals Weeks...helped lead the LA Galaxy U-17 Academy Team to the 2011 Generation Adidas Cup...currently competes for the LA Galaxy U-18 Academy Team.

Jordan Vale
Auckland, New Zealand (Syracuse Univ./Mount Albert Grammar School/Waitakere United)
Midfielder - 5-11, 169

Transfer from Syracuse University who will enter the 2013 season as a sophomore...started all 21 games for Syracuse as a freshman...named to the College Soccer News All-Freshman Third Team...named to the All-BIG EAST Third Team and BIG EAST All-Rookie Team...finished the season as Syracuse's leading scorer with nine goals...netted a career-high two goals against Colgate...named to the Mayor's Cup XXVI All-Tournament Team...attended Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland, New Zealand for four years (2007-11)...three-year starter at Mount Grammar under head coach Kevin Fallon, leading the team in goals in 2010...competed for the New Zealand U-17 National Team...started every match at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico...recorded a goal in New Zealand's victory against Uzbekistan at the World Cup...competed for the Waitakere United club team...chose to come to UCLA because of the style of play and to help the team to win another national championship.

Gage Zerboni
San Clemente, Calif. (San Clemente HS/West Coast Fútbol Club)
Midfielder/Forward - 5-10, 160

Attended San Clemente High School (San Clemente, Calif.) for four years, earning a three varsity letters in soccer under head coach Mike Pronier...captained San Clemente to the 2011 California State Championship and the No. 6 ranking in the country in 2012...scored 21 goals and recorded 12 assists in 2012, earning South Coast League MVP and first-team All-Orange County honors...set San Clemente records for most assists in a season (18-2013), most goals in a game (4-2012), most assists in a game (3-2012), and most career assists (38)...was the top scorer in Orange County as a senior in 2013 (25 goals)...also competed for the West Coast Futbol Club (Boys U-10 through U-18)...has been the captain of the West Coast Futbol Club for the last seven years...captained West Coast to the 2009 and 2010 California State Cup...also led West Coast to the 2009 State Championship and 2009 National Championship...sister McCall played soccer at UCLA for four years from 2005-08.

Undefeated Cougar Men's Soccer Must Guard Against Complacency
by Dennis McCall
Midway Driller
October 8, 2012

The undefeated Cougar men’s soccer team on Friday won its fourth consecutive game by a 2-0 score.  And, all have been on the road.

This time it was a satisfying victory over Central Valley Conference archrival Fresno City College to boost the Cougars to 9-0-2 on the season and, more importantly, 2-0 in the conference.

Head coach Angelo Cutrona will be happy with another 2-0 win Tuesday when the Cougars take their seventh straight road trip to Sacramento to take on American River College (6-5-2) in a conference crossover match.

The thing that most worries him is overconfidence. “The villain for us will always be complacency,” he said.  “I’m always looking for our guys to be calm, cool and sharp.  We have to go into every game with that mindset.  I think everybody understands what’s at stake.”
It was that approach that carried the Cougars to the win over Fresno. “That was a big test for us,” he said.  “It’s very difficult to win in Fresno.  It wasn’t a fluke.  Our boys went in there and made a statement.”

Cutrona said the Cougars controlled the tempo and didn’t allow the Rams to counterattack.
“Fresno sat back and defended,” he said.  “At times they had eight players in the back.  They use their size and strength to defend and then look for opportunities to counterattack, but we didn’t give them an opportunity.” It was scoreless until moments before the halftime whistle when Trevon Demison scored on a header off a pass from Ramiro Barraza. “That goal came at a perfect time and solidified what we were trying to do,” Cutrona said.  “It you don’t score there are no brownie points.”

Demison’s goal forced Fresno to completely change its strategy for the second half, he said.
“They came out with a completely different lineup with three forwards up top to apply more pressure.  We never gave them any real opportunities.”

Edgar Placensia, a sophomore midfielder from Wasco, scored the clincher on a shot from about 25 yards out after taking a pass from Jose Gonzalez.

Roberto Gonzalez, a sophomore from Taft High, recorded his fourth shutout in a row with five saves.  He ranks 10th in the state among goalkeepers.

Fresno, the defending CVC champion, saw its record slip to 1-1 in the conference and 6-4-1 overall.
Despite the win, the Cougars slipped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the state power rankings.

City College of San Francisco moved into the top spot with a scoreless tie against No. 5 Hartnell College.

After making the trip to play American River, the remainder of the schedule favors the Cougars.  Six of their eight matches are at home.

Cougars Take No. 1 Ranking Into Fresno City
by Dennis McCall
Midway Driller
October 4, 2012

Taft College men's soccer team is currently 8-0-2
The target on the back of the Taft College men’s soccer team just got bigger as the Cougars head into today’s crucial Central Valley Conference game at Fresno City College.

Tuesday’s 2-0 non-conference win over Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga vaulted the Cougars into the top spot in the state’s power rankings. “Our standards keep getting higher,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona, whose team remained unbeaten at 8-0-2.  “It will be interesting to see how we deal with it.  Going undefeated is a tough task.  Any team can knock you off.”
Fresno would like to be that team.

The Rams have worn the conference crown the last four seasons by finding ways to beat Taft.
“They hit some rough going early in the season but are playing with a lot of confidence now,” Cutrona said of the Rams (6-3-1).

Today’s game marks a transition for the Cougars, who have been mostly playing southern California teams.  Nine of TC’s opponents are southlanders.  The lone exception was last week’s conference opening win at West Hills-Lemoore. “We’ve been playing southern California teams, and we’ve done a good job,” Cutrona said.  “Now the question is: what are we going to do against the north?”

With the exception of a non-conference game with San Bernardino Valley, TC’s 10 remaining games are against northern schools.

In the win at Chaffey, sophomore forward Roberto Mariscal scored both goals, and both, in Cutrona’s words, “were incredible goals.” The first came in the 20th minute off a pass from Eddie Lopez. “He made great athletic plays and showed great technique and skill,” the coach said. He gave a lot of credit to his defense.

“Chaffey uses three forwards up top, which puts a lot of pressure on the defense,” Cutrona said.  “We were ready.  I think we caught them off-guard by how prepared we were for that.”
Sophomore keeper Roberto Gonzales was up to the challenge, too.

“He had five saves,” Cutrona said.  “He had to defend two or three long shots that they hit very well, but Beto was on top of it.  He didn’t give up any rebounds.  Roberto dealt with it very well.”

The victory gives Cutrona family bragging rights for the next year.  His brother-in-law coaches the Chaffey men’s team and his sister the women’s team.

The Cougars expect a physical game from Fresno. “They always have bigger, beefier guys,” Cutrona said.  “Fresno never lacks in size and strength.  You always have to deal with their physicality.”

The Rams have scored 18 goals in their last five games. The Cougars are ranked 11th in the nation in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association poll.

California Top 10:
1. Taft (8-0-2) 2. Cerritos (6-2-2) 3. San Francisco (8-0-1) 4. Santa Ana (4-1-1) 5. Modesto (7-2-2) 6. Golden West (6-1-2) 7. Lassen (5-1-3) 8. Mt. San Antonio (8-1-0) 9. L.A. Harbor (6-2-2 10. Feather River (7-3-1)

Big Week Ahead for Cougar Men's Soccer
by Dennis McCall
Midway Driller
October 1, 2012

This week is shaping up as the most important one of the season for the Taft College men’s soccer team with two crucial games – both on the road.

The Cougars head south Tuesday for a non-conference game against Chaffey College (7-2-1) and north Friday for an important Central Valley Conference outing against defending champion Fresno City College (5-3-1).

“This is a crucial week for us,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona, who saw his team improve to 7-0-2 last Friday with a 2-0 win over West Hills-Lemoore in the conference opener for both schools.

For sure, no one is more keyed up about the week than Cutrona.

The Chaffey match-up is personal. “This one will be for family bragging rights,” he said.  “My brother-in-law is the head coach.” And, to make it more interesting, his sister, Grace Cutrona, is the head coach of Chaffey’s women’s team. “I was the pioneer in the family in going into coaching,” he said.  “We’ve had some success and they have watched us play quite a bit, so they know how we coach and how we play.  It should be interesting.”

Chaffey men’s coach Ben Cooper has had some success too. “They’ve been in the playoffs the last four years,” Cutrona said.

The Fresno game is personal too.

Even though the Cougars always go farther in the playoffs than Fresno, the Rams have snatched the conference crown away the last four years. “One of our goals this year is to not let that happen again,” he said.  “They seem to have a knack for pulling out the win when it counts the most.”

In Friday’s win over West Hills-Lemoore the Cougars dominated throughout with steady play but had trouble finishing their opportunities, especially in the first half. “It was zero-zero at the end of the first half, and that was a little discouraging and disappointing,” Cutrona said.  “We played well and out-possessed them.”

Trevon Demison broke the scoring drought with his goal off an assist from Juan Carlos Gonzalez and Ramiro Barraza sealed it with his goal off a pass from Gerardo Gonzalez. “We seemed to be playing with a casual attitude, and that really scares me as a coach,” Cutrona said.  “But once we got that first goal I knew we were in good shape. “I felt we dominated the entire game.  When it was over I looked at the scoreboard and saw that we out-shot them 18-6.  It didn’t seem like we had that many legitimate shots on goal or that they had that many either, but maybe we did.”

Last Gasp Goals Keep Cougar Men's Soccer Team Undefeated
by Dennis McCall
Midway Driller
September 24, 2012

LONG BEACH – Two breakaway goals off long crossing passes in extra time Friday gave the Taft College a 4-2 non-conference men's soccer victory over Long Beach City College.

The late heroics kept the twice-tied Cougars unbeaten at 5-0-2 heading into today's game at Oxnard College (4-1-1), ranked No. 8 in the state. The Cougars are 17th in the state but No. 12 on the national soccer coaches poll.

"I felt like it was slipping away from us," said Cougar head coach Angelo Cutrona before the late heroics. "We called attack mode, and I was very happy with the way we executed."

Midfielder Gerardo Gonzalez, a freshman from Wasco, took a long crossing pass from Roberto Mariscal on a breakaway and rifled a shot past Long Beach goalkeeper Jorge Becerra for what essentially was the game-winner.

The Cougar defense contained the Vikings last-ditch attack and got another breakaway pass from Juan Carlos Gonzalez that Jose Gonzalez shot past Becerra just seconds before the whistle blew.

Cutrona was pleased with the way his team came back after Long Beach scored two second half goals to pull into a tie. "We were able to execute well despite tired legs late in the game," he said.

The Cougars had to finish without leading scorer Ramiro Barraza, who was injured during a hard collision with a Long Beach player. Barraza had two first-half goals.
They also were without the services of Trevon Demison, who had to sit out after drawing two yellow cards in the previous game. "He's such a versatile player," Cutrona said. "He can play midfield and in the back. Against Long Beach I would have had him in the back to guard against back-door balls. Both of Long Beach's goals were back-door."

In addition to his crucial goal, Gerardo Gonzalez had an assist on Barraza's first goal – a header that came 17 minutes into the game.

Julio Lopez got the assist on Barraza's second goal – a breakaway in the 26th minute.
Cougar goalie Roberto Gonzalez had three saves.

Cutrona expects a tough game today on the coast. "I haven't scouted Oxnard, but I know they have five or six really talented athletes," he said. "They have good size in the back where it counts. The key for us will be to stick to our game-plan."

In addition to the stunning finish, there was another unique aspect to the Long Beach game. It was streamed live on the Internet – a first for a Cougar sports event.

TC Men Fit to be Tied, But Remain Undefeated
by Dennis McCall
Midway Driller
September 13, 2012

After three straight wins to open the season, the Taft College men’s soccer team on Tuesday fought visiting East Los Angeles to a 1-all standoff but hopes to get back on track today when the Cougars host Los Angeles Mission.

Action begins at 3 p.m. on the 10th and San Emidio field.

Ramiro Barraza headed in a pass from Julio Lopez with about 15 minutes left to pull the Cougars into a tie even though they were down a man after captain Edgar Plascensia was re-carded for using a profane adjective.

“That’s when we turned it up a notch,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona.  “We had two chances to go ahead but could have done better.”

The East L.A. goalkeeper made a nifty save on a penalty kick by Julio Lopez and Barraza missed on an open net header earlier in the game. “It’s funny,” Cutrona said.  “He missed with an open net five minutes earlier, then put it away when he was well marked.”

The tie broke a three-game win streak to open the season.

Cutrona didn’t think his team played particularly well. “We didn’t play well against Long Beach but won 3-0,” he said.  “I thought we took another step back (Tuesday).”

He hopes his team will be eager to get some rhythm back today. “I want us to be a little ticked off,” he said.  “We need to show we are not going backward.”

Plus, he wants some bounce heading into next Tuesday’s road game against perennial Southern California power Cerritos. “It’s going to be a true test for us.”

East L.A.’s goal came on a strange play. A Cougar player was clearly fouled but the referee had jumped out of the way to avoid the ball. “When he jumped out of the way he missed a pull-down on one of our guys,” Cutrona said.  “That should have been a free kick for us.  Our guys relaxed for a moment expecting a whistle that we didn’t get and East L.A. caught

Barraza's Two Goals Power Taft College Men Past Santa Barbara
by Dennis McCall
Midway Driller
September 6, 2012

Freshman forward Ramiro Barraza turned in another sterling performance Wednesday by scoring two goals that powered the Taft College men's team to a 3-1 non-conference victory over Santa Barbara City College.

The win improved the Cougars' early season record to 2-0 heading into this afternoon's home match with Long Beach City College (1 p.m.)

An early Santa Barbara goal on a penalty kick didn't rattle the Cougars.
Instead, they came back with a pair of goals for a 2-1 halftime edge and then cemented the win with Barraza's second goal. "We just went back to playing our game after giving up the early goal," said head coach Angelo Cutrona. "It was nice to see that."

He thought the near 100-degree heat quickly wore down the team from the coast.

"After the first half I felt the Taft heat worked in our favor," he said."
He also liked his team's intensity.

"We were everywhere. I thought we controlled the rhythm and the tempo throughout. At one point in the second half Santa Barbara decided to sit back and hope for a counterattack, but it really backfired on them."

After the Vaqueros scored at about the 10-minute mark on a penalty kick Barraza, a freshman from Bakersfield High, tied it after taking a pass from midfielder Andy Reyes.

Trevon Demison, another BHS product, scored the go-ahead goal on an assist from Julio Lopez and Barraza put it away with his second goal. Andres Iniguez got the assist.

Taft High product Roberto Gonzalez worked the goal for the Cougars but his teammates did a good job of keeping the Vaquero offense in check.

"They had a couple of chances but Roberto, as usual, did a good job," Cutrona said. "Our guys made it a pretty easy day for him, though. I was really happy with our defense."

The Cougar women, meanwhile, evened their record at 1-1-1 with a win and a loss.
On Monday, they defeated El Camino College 2-0 with Kathy Lopez and Joanna Espinosa scoring the goals.

On Tuesday, TC dropped a 3-0 decision to Santa Barbara.

While the men are hosting Long Beach today, the women are in northern California for a pair of non-conference matches. Today they are in Redding to play Shasta and on Saturday will be in Oroville to take on Butte.

Top NASL Rookies so far in 2012

by Brian Quarstad
IMS Soccer News

July 24, 2012

A little past the midway point of the season, IMS gives you a list of the top rookies in the league to keep your eye on. Not only for possible NASL Rookie of the Year honors but as top prospects to move on to MLS or other leagues above Division II.

Mark (Sparky) Anderson

# 1) Mark Anderson (Fort Lauderdale Strikers)
Anderson signed with Ft. Lauderdale in mid March after showing well in the NASL Combine. An Englishman from Durham, England, he played college in the States at Division II side Barry University between 2008 and 2010. In three seasons he scored a total of 38 goals and racked up 28 assists in 53 appearances. Anderson was named 2011 Daktronics DII National Soccer Player of the Year and 2011 Capital One Academic All-America of the Year for DII men’s soccer.

Anderson scored in his professional debut against the RailHawks and has only gotten stronger as the season has progressed. He is scoring at a rate of 1 goal every 128 minutes played and if he continues at this rate will also be be a candidate for MVP. He is currently 2nd in the league for goals with 9 and has specialized in long range hits and set pieces, many being highlight-reel type shots, like the goal he scored from the half-way line in a US Open Cup match against the San Jose Earthquakes.

The rookie forward has been a highlight himself in a somewhat average season so far for the Strikers.

Miguel Ibarra

#2) Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota Stars FC)
Don’t look to the NASL statistics to see why Ibarra is on this list. He has only 2 goals and 1 assist so far in 2012. But the 5’7″, 150 lb, 22-year-old has been a driving force in Minnesota’s success this season.

Drafted by the Portland Timbers in the second round of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft (27th overall), he didn’t stick and the Timbers released him. But those who saw him play in his time with UC Irvine knew he was the real deal.

Stars coach Manny Lagos was looking for speed at the wings in the offseason and thought he may have lost out until he signed Ibarra. He was named the Brit’s Pub/IMSoccer News Minnesota Stars FC Man of the Match in his very first game as a pro in front of over 8,000 at the Metrodome and ran circles around the Carolina RailHawks defense. Stars fans hoped it wasn’t an anomaly and they haven’t been disappointed.

Ibarra’s blazing speed at the outside right midfield position has allowed him to start nearly ever game as a rookie, logging in 1,234 minutes. Lagos has trusted the young midfielder to float from left to right and generally cause havoc on opposing teams’ defense. Ibarra is often seen leading the pace for the Stars, dribbling directly at teams’ defense and has been involved with many a Stars goal by his skill and worth ethic which goes from the first to the ninetieth minute.

Orlando Esteban Bayona

#3) Orlando Esteban Bayona (San Antonio Scorpions)
Yes, 28 years of age is a little old to be called a rookie, but this is Bayona’s first gig as a pro.

He spent 2009-11 playing for the USL PDL Laredo Heat where he scored 28 goals in 39 appearances. He was the Heat’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 and in 2011 and he was one of the top 3 goal scorers in PDL.

The 6′ forward from Bogota, Colombia was brought in by Scorpions head coach Tim Hankinson to give support to proven goal scoring partner, Pablo Campos. Bayona wasn’t even on the bench the first game of the season and although he made cameo appearances, didn’t start until the 8th game of the season which was on May 27th. Since that time he has started in 5 more games, scoring 4 times and assisting on 4 more in only 795 minutes played. It seems Hankinson has found Campos strike partner in Bayona.

Other players of mention:

Kevin Venegas (Minnesota Stars FC)

Left outside midfielder who filled in admirably for Lucas Rodriquez after his hernia surgery. Venegas has one goal and one assist in 938 minutes played and his solo effort on May 12th, went viral on YouTube. The California State Fullerton grad plays both sides of the ball and crosses handsomely.

Austen King (Carolina RailHawks)
A centerback, King has logged in a lot of minutes for a rookie, especially considering he is playing for a very demanding Colin Clarke. King has one goal to his name in the 1,333 minutes he has played this rookie season. Though he hasn’t been perfect in the back, the 22-year-old 6’2″ defender is a strong physical presence that seems to be getting better with each and every match. He makes up a very young back duo with 20-year-old, also 6’2″, Gale Agbossoumonde making the other bookend.

Cougar Men's Soccer Team Saved by an Angel
by Matthew Henry
Taft Midway Driller

September 22, 2011

Taft, Calif. —
With just seconds to go in a scoreless game for the Taft College men’s soccer team Tuesday at Moorpark, an angel came to the rescue.


Angel Garcia, a sophomore midfielder from Shafter High, made a gutsy move on a defender and drove a left-footed shot past the goalkeeper to give the Cougars a 1-0 victory.

“It was just amazing to watch,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona.  “It was a pure instinct moment and individual drive.  He just didn’t give up.”

Cutrona said he experienced a wave of emotion as the game wound down.

“At first I thought we were going to leave with a tie, then they got a corner kick and I was thinking how awful it would be to lose that way in the last second,” he said. 

“We cleared the ball and it went high up on their end of the field.”

A Moorpark defender gained control, but Garcia stole it and positioned himself for the winning shot.

“It was definitely Angel to the rescue,” Cutrona said.  “That was a hard-fought win.”

He said his team had scoring opportunities, but just couldn’t finish.

Cougar keeper Jorge Flores had three saves.

The win improves the Cougars to 4-3-1 heading into today’s home game with Long Beach City College.  Kickoff is at 3 p.m. on the Tenth/San Emidio field.

“They’ll be strong,” Cutrona said of the Vikings.  “We’ll get Pablo Nunez back to give us more depth.”

Taft College Men's Soccer Team Loses to Powerhouse
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

September 19, 2011

Taft, Calif. —
The No, 2 ranked undefeated Cerritos men’s team, meanwhile, defeated the Cougar men 4-0 in Taft on Friday.

The win pushed the Falcons’ record to 6-0-1 while the Cougars dropped to 3-3-2.TC has dropped two in a row and hopes to get back on the winning track today when the Cougars hit the road to take on Moorpark College.

The Cougars will host Long Beach City College Friday at 3 p.m. on the Tenth Street field.

Cougar Men Lose Against East Los Angeles College
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

September 15, 2011

An early penalty kick and a late breakaway goal gave visiting East Los Angeles a 2-1 victory over the Cougar men in the game that followed the win by the TC women. ELA scored on a penalty kick in the 16th minute to take a 1-0 halftime lead.

The Cougars seized the second half momentum and had more scoring opportunities than the Huskies, but were unable to capitalize until sophomore midfielder Angel Garcia scored on a header in the 73rd minute off a nifty crossing pass from Andy Reyes.

The game remained even until the Huskies scored with less than eight minutes left.

Cougar goalie Jorge Flores had five saves.

The loss drops the Cougars to 3-2-2 heading into today’s home game against Cerritos College, which comes to town with a 5-0-1 record and a No. 5 state ranking.  The Cougars dropped to 17th with the loss to East L.A.
Taft and Cerritos have some history.

The Falcons defeated the Cougars for the 2006 state championship, a year before TC won the title.  Cerritos also won the state crown in 2008.

Cougars Win, Lose, Tie in Mens Soccer Tournament
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

September 12, 2011

Santa Maria,Calif. —
Taft College men’s soccer team came away from the three-day Allan Hancock College tournament with a win, a loss and a tie plus a bit of disappointment.

“The field conditions were poor and not at all suited to our style of play,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona.  “But as a team you have to adjust to the conditions, and I think it showed how young we are because we didn’t quite figure it out.”
He said the grass was long and thick, which suited the Cougar foes.

The Cougars are back on a faster track today when they host East Los Angeles (2-1-0) on the Tenth Street field.
“It should be a good game because they play on field turf,” Cutrona said.

The game starts at 3 with the Cougar women’s team hosting Allan Hancock at 1.

The Cougars opened the weekend tournament by blanking the host Bulldogs 3-0.

Goals were scored by Jose Gonzalez, Juan Olivares and Noel Lopez with assists going to Angel Garcia and Julio Lopez.  Noel Lopez’s goal was on a penalty kick.

Cougar goalkeeper Jorge Flores had three assists.

Lassen defeated the Cougars 2-1 on Saturday with TC’s only goal coming on another PK from sophomore midfielder Noel Lopez. Flores had four saves in the neat.

On Sunday the Cougars battled Rio Hondo (1-0-1) to a 1-all tie with Noel Lopez again scoring the lone goal to give him four on the season.  Flores had four saves.

Despite the mixed results, the Cougars are ranked No. 4 in the state on the power ratings that take into account goals for and against, strength of opponents and whether you play at home or on the road.

Cutrona is worried that his team will have tired legs for today’s game.“We played three days in a row so I’m praying we’ll be sufficiently recovered,” he said.

The Cougar men will be at home again Friday when they host Southern California powerhouse Cerritos (2-0-1), a team that has outscored opponents 11-4 and owns a 4-1 victory over TC rival Fresno City College.

Cougars Open Playoffs Against American River
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

November 18, 2010

Taft College will face a familiar opponent when the Cougar men open the California community college soccer playoffs Saturday. Once the final rankings were released on Tuesday, the Cougars (8-7-4 overall, 3-3-0 Central Valley Conference) are matched against American River College of Sacramento rather than Evergreen Valley of San Jose. Post-season power rankings at first had Evergreen as the No. 4 seed in the northern California playoffs and Taft 11th.  But after all coaches submitted final statistics, the leader board changed. “I was told we’ll be playing American River,” Cougar head coach Angelo Cutrona said Wednesday night.  “We played them earlier this season and did pretty well.  We beat them 2-0. That game was on Oct. 5 on the Beavers home field. That’s where the Cougars will open the playoffs.  Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

American River finished the season 11-4-6 overall and 5-1-2 and a second place finish in the Big 8 Conference behind champion Santa Rosa J.C. (6-1-1, 15-2-2).  TC finished third in the CVC). The Cougars played four of the five Big 8 teams, going 2-1-1.  The victories were over ARC and Cosumnes River, the tie was with Modesto and the loss was to San Joaquin Delta. Cutrona believes his team is ready for the playoffs. “I think we’re ready,” he said.  “I think things are starting to turn in the right direction for us.” A Cougar win Saturday would put them in the second round against the winner of the Evergreen Valley-Lassen game.  Evergreen was seeded third and Lassen 12th. “We need two upsets Saturday,” Cutrona said.  “We need to upset American River and Lassen needs to upset Evergreen.  That would give us a home game in the second round.”

TC Will Travel for Soccer Playoffs
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

November 15, 2010

It won’t be official until today, but it appears that Taft College will travel to San Jose Saturday for the first round of the men’s state soccer playoffs. And, it appears the 11th seed Cougars will take on No. 6 seed and Coast Conference champ Evergreen Valley College, which finished 17-1-3 overall and 12-0-2 in conference play. TC (8-7-4 overall, 3-3-0 Central Valley Conference) finished the regular season last Friday with a 3-0 conference victory over College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Freshman midfielder Eric Flores scored a goal and had an assist. Ricardo Sandoval and Roberto Mariscal scored the other goals with the assists coming from Edgar Plasencia and Greg Quintero. Freshman goalkeeper Roberto Gonzalez, a former Taft High Wildcat, had six saves in recording the shutout. He finished the regular season as the No. 4 goalie in the state. He gave up just three goals in 555 minutes of playing time.

TC finished third in the four-team Central Valley Conference race after beating College of the Sequoias 3-0 on Friday.
Sequoias ended up winless in the conference and 5-13-2 overall. Fresno is the conference champion at 4-0-2 after tying West Hills-Lemoore in its regular season finale. The Rams are ranked second in northern California and third in the state. They will get a first-round bye. It’s a unique spot for the Cougars, who are usually among the top teams in the state. TC made it to last year’s state championship game for the third time in the last four years where they lost to Mt. San Antonio 2-1. “It’s definitely a different situation for us,” head coach Angelo Cutrona said. “We usually have teams hoping to knock us off. Now we’re the ones who are trying to catch somebody overlooking us.”

Women lose at Fresno

The Cougar women also closed out the season Friday by losing to conference champ Fresno, 4-1. TC finished the season with 1-2-3 conference and 5-9-5 overall records. The Cougars limped through the latter stages of the season. They had just 13 players left, and not all of those were healthy. “We actually ended pretty well despite all of our injury problems,” said head coach Myisha Cutrona. “I told them going into the final match, ‘Show me that you have character. Show me you are fighters.’ “Now is a time for healing. The freshmen need to get well and look ahead to next season.” Sophomore Maria Ibarra, who played through a hamstring injury virtually the entire season, scored the Cougar goal. It was her 12th of the season. She also finished with seven assists. Both are team highs. “Maria played tough all season,” Cutrona said. “She was strong despite playing most of the season with an injury. She’s one of the fastest players in the conference, and I hope that earns her some looks to play at the next level.” Olivia Gonzales was credited with the assist on Ibarra’s goal. Ibarra and Gonzales were the only sophomores on the team.

Cougar Men Looking for Soccer Playoff Spot
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

November 11, 2010

The Taft College men’s soccer team may squeeze into the state playoffs if the Cougars can get by College of the Sequoias in Visalia today. “I’m confident we will get a win,” said Cougar head coach Angelo Cutrona. “Then we’ll have to wait and see. Right now we are No. 12 (in the northern California rankings). Hopefully we will stay there or maybe move up a spot.”
The top 14 teams make the northern playoffs. It’s an unusual spot for Cutrona and his Cougars, who are usually among the top teams in the state. TC made it to last year’s state championship game for the third time in the last four years, falling to Mt. San Antonio on a hotly disputed goal. “It’s definitely a different situation for us,” Cutrona said. “We usually have teams hoping to knock us off. Now we’re the ones who are trying to catch somebody overlooking us.”

TC will finish third in the four-team Central Valley Conference race. The Cougars head into today’s regular season finale with 2-3-0 conference and 7-7-5 overall records. Sequoias is winless in the conference and 5-12-2 overall. Fresno is the conference champion at 4-0-1 (the tie was with Taft) and 12-5-2 overall. The Rams are ranked second in northern California and third in the state. The Cougar women, meanwhile, close out the season today against conference champ Fresno (4-0-1, 15-2-2). Like their counterpart men’s team, the Fresno women are ranked second in northern California and third in the state.
The Cougar women played to a scoreless standoff with West Hills-Lemoore in a CVC game here Tuesday afternoon. They defeated winless Allan Hancock 6-0 last Friday in a non-conference game.

Cougar Men Set Sights on Soccer Playoffs
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

November 8, 2010

The Taft College men’s soccer team may squeeze into the state playoffs if the Cougars can get by College of the Sequoias in Visalia today. “I’m confident we will get a win,” said Cougar head coach Angelo Cutrona. “Then we’ll have to wait and see. Right now we are No. 12 (in the northern California rankings). Hopefully we will stay there or maybe move up a spot.”
The top 14 teams make the northern playoffs. It’s an unusual spot for Cutrona and his Cougars, who are usually among the top teams in the state. TC made it to last year’s state championship game for the third time in the last four years, falling to Mt. San Antonio on a hotly disputed goal. “It’s definitely a different situation for us,” Cutrona said. “We usually have teams hoping to knock us off. Now we’re the ones who are trying to catch somebody overlooking us.”

TC will finish third in the four-team Central Valley Conference race. The Cougars head into today’s regular season finale with 2-3-0 conference and 7-7-5 overall records. Sequoias is winless in the conference and 5-12-2 overall. Fresno is the conference champion at 4-0-1 (the tie was with Taft) and 12-5-2 overall. The Rams are ranked second in northern California and third in the state. The Cougar women, meanwhile, close out the season today against conference champ Fresno (4-0-1, 15-2-2). Like their counterpart men’s team, the Fresno women are ranked second in northern California and third in the state.
The Cougar women played to a scoreless standoff with West Hills-Lemoore in a CVC game here Tuesday afternoon. They defeated winless Allan Hancock 6-0 last Friday in a non-conference game.

Cougar Men Set Sights on Soccer Playoffs
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

November 8, 2010

The Taft College men’s soccer team isn’t having a typical season. The Cougars are 7-7-4 (2-3-0 in the Central Valley Conference) and have struggled to get the ball into the net, but the playoffs are still in sight thanks to a stingy defense. Ranked 11th in northern California, the Cougars can clinch a playoff spot on Friday when they travel the Visalia to take on College of the Sequoias (5-12-2, 0-5-5 CVC). Of the top 25 teams in the state, only six have allowed fewer goals than the Cougars, who have given up just 16 in 18 games. On the other hand, only one other top 25 team has scored fewer than Taft’s 19 goals. One reason is the strength of schedule.

The Cougars have played six top 10 teams – Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10, including No. 3 Fresno City College twice. Both were one-goal losses, with the second one coming Friday on the Cougars’ home field. “I’m just crossing my fingers that we can make the playoffs,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona, who has taken his teams to the post-season the previous five seasons, including three final four appearances. The Cougars have one state title and two runner-ups. “Even if we win Friday, I think we are pretty much staying No. 11 (NorCal) because COS isn’t going to give us any power points,” he said. “Depending on how the teams ahead of us do we could end up either dropping to 12 or 13 or maybe moving up to 10.” If the freshman dominated Cougars make the playoffs, Cutrona is optimistic they will make an impression. “If we can make the playoffs, we can whip up something to make the playoffs interesting,” he said. “ We’re going to give anybody a battle.”

The season has been frustrating for Cutrona because of his team’s inability to score. It was the same story Friday when Fresno escaped with a 2-1 victory. The Rams capitalized on what he described as “silly mistakes” by his goalkeepers – one on a header into an open Cougar net. Worst yet was missing two golden opportunities to score. “We missed an open netter and had a one-on-one breakaway that their keeper saved,” he said. The Cougars dominated the action. Even Fresno City College coach Eric Solberg said so. “He asked me how we dominated the game and still didn’t win,” Cutrona said. Freshman midfielder Egdar Plascencia scored the Cougar goal in the second half with Fresno leading 2-0 when he emerged from a corner kick scramble to put a shot past Ram goalie Tadd Patrick. Cutrona hopes making the playoffs will provide a needed spark for his young team. “Right now we just need that extra push,” he said. The Cougars lost their starting goalie to a knee injury. Sophomore Emilio Miranda landed awkwardly after a leaping save attempt, and left the game. Cutrona said Miranda may have damaged ligaments. He was replaced by Taft High product Roberto Gonzalez.

Women tie Sequoias

The Cougar women, meanwhile, tied visiting College of the Sequoias 2-2 Friday afternoon. Brenda Becerra and Maria Ibarra scored the goals and provided the assists as well. Goalie Elioisa Lopez had three saves. The Cougars are 4-8-4 (1-1-2 CVC) heading into today’s home conference game with West Hills College (7-10-0, 1-3-0 CVC). TC will wrap up the regular season on the road Friday. It’s a tough assignment too. The Cougars will take on the No. 1 team in the state. Fresno City College is ranked first in the state with a 14-2-2 record (4-0-1 CVC). That conference tie came against the Cougars in Taft.
Fresno has outscored its opponents 47-6

TC Soccer Roundup: Women Tie, Men Win
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

October 18, 2010

Ties aren’t something teams usually crow about, but for the Taft College women’s soccer team it translates to a moral victory and, perhaps, a catalyst for the rest of the season. The Cougars battled Fresno City College – the No. 2 team in northern California and No. 3 in the state – to a scoreless standoff Friday in Taft before the men’s team scored a 3-0 victory over College of the Sequoias. The win by the Cougar women evens their Central Valley Conference record at 1-1-1 (4-7-2 overall) and marks the first time TC has tied Fresno. The Rams (1-1 CVC, 10-2-2 overall) have won all of the previous meetings. “I’m just very proud of our team,” said head coach Myisha Cutrona. “This is the best heart that they’ve shown all year. It was a huge moral victory. I told them afterward that they earned the respect of the coaches.”

The Cougars have struggled with a freshman-dominated team that has been hit hard by the injury bug. “We had only 13 players, but I thought we did extremely well considering the situation with out injuries,” Cutrona said. The key against the high-powered Rams was a change in the game plan, she said. “We used a different formation. I just told them what the game plan was, and this is the first time they all were on the same page. Our sophomores, Maria Ibarra and Olivia Gonzales, really stepped up.” Cutrona moved Gonzales to the right back attacking position, and it paid off. “She had been struggling as a forward. She’s one of our better defenders and seems to play better when she has everything in front of her.” Freshman midfielder Carmen Velasquez from Wasco also played a key role. “She was our sweeper and did a great job,” Cutrona said. “She kept communicating, and that was key. She didn’t let us have any defensive breakdowns, and we’ve struggled with that in the past.” Goalkeeper Eloisa Lopez also had a big day, shutting out a Fresno team that had scored 20 goals in its last five games and has outscored opponents 34-4 on the season. She had nine saves. “She really had some key saves for us,” the coach said.

Men blank Sequoias

The Cougar men, meanwhile, used a strong second half to shut out COS 3-0 in a game head coach Angelo Cutrona hopes will signal a turnaround for his struggling team. “We definitely had a better second half,” he said, when the Cougars scored twice after leading 1-0 at the break. TC had been struggling in the second half all season. “We made a few adjustments at halftime and something seemed to click,” he said. One of the individual bright spots was Ruben Barraza, a freshman forward from Bakersfield High. “He really turned it up,” Cutrona said. “I know he has a nose for the goal.” Barraza scored a goal and had an assist.

“The big difference in the second half was that we were more aggressive going forward,” Cutrona said. “That created a lot more chances for us. Cameron Giles and Roberto Mariscal really showed their speed and power game.” Giles scored a goal and Mariscal had an assist. Gerardo Santiago had the other Cougar goal. Goalkeeper Emilio Miranda had four saves The Cougars (1-2-0 CVC, 5-5-3 overall) host West Hills-Lemoore (2-0-1, 6-4-3) Friday afternoon at 3 in a crucial Central Valley Conference game. West Hills defeated the Cougars 2-1 in Lemoore in a first-round game. “I know we can beat them,” Cutrona said. “I think we’re going to have a little more motivation this time.”

Cougars Upset American River, Take on Fresno
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

October 7, 2010

That’s one down and one to go. The Taft College men’s soccer team faced two major challenges this week, and both were on the road. The first was overcome Tuesday when the Cougars defeated American River College, 2-0, in Sacramento.  ARC (8-2-3) was the No. 2 team in northern California, but slipped six spots with the Taft loss. Today, the Cougars face their next challenge at Fresno City College in a key Central Valley Conference match-up.  Fresno moved into American River’s No. 2 spot in the rankings. With the win, the Cougars improved to 3-4-3 on the season and moved up to the No. 11 spot. “It was definitely needed,” head coach Angelo Cutrona.

His team, while playing solid defense, had been struggling to score goals – finding the net only twice in the four previous games (two ties and two losses). “The difference was our energy,” he said.  “It was great from the opening whistle.  We were just more aggressive, especially in the first half.  We obviously put a lot of focus into it.  When you drive five hours you don’t want to waste the trip.” The Cougars scored both goals in the first half within five minutes. Two freshmen midfielders teamed up to score the first goal. Roberto Mariscal took a pass from Angel Garcia to score the ice breaker that “took the air out of American River,” Cutrona said.

The Cougars struck quickly to take a 2-0 lead.  About five minutes later defender Pablo Nunez broke away down the sideline.  Beaver goalie Andrew Schramm cheated out a little too much and Eric Flores’s shot was partially deflected but rolled slowly over the goal. “It barely went past the line, but it counts,” Cutrona said. With a 2-0 halftime cushion, the Cougars were less aggressive. “We just kind of held onto it in the second half,” Cutrona said.  Once again, Cutrona used two players in the Cougar goal.  Freshman Roberto Gonzalez, who played at Taft High last year, and sophomore Emilio Miranda each played a half and each had two saves. American River’s Schramm had four saves. “American River is a very good team,” Cutrona said.  “If we are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, I have a feeling we will be seeing them again. It was the first of four crossover games the Cougars will play against teams from the Big 7 Conference. After today’s Fresno trip, the Cougars will get four straight at home, beginning with next Tuesday’s crossover against Cosumnes River at 3 p.m. on the field at Tenth and San Emidio streets.

Cougar Soccer Teams Prepare for Conference Action
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller

September 27, 2010

The Taft College men’s soccer team continues to struggle offensively as the Cougars head into their Central Valley Conference opener Friday at West Hills-Lemoore. Taft enters conference play with an uncharacteristic 2-3-3 record, but more importantly, has had little success putting the ball into the net. That was reflected again last Friday when the Cougars missed scoring opportunities and had to settle for a 1-1 tie at home against Moorpark College. “We’re struggling pretty badly right now,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona. “We could have controlled the tempo and rhythm of the game, but we didn’t. Their team took only two shots on goal and we weren’t much better with five or six.” The Cougars scored first to take a 1-0 halftime lead 25 minutes into the game on a goal by Roberto Mariscal.
The teams struggled back and forth until, with 10 minutes remaining, Moorpark scored on a free kick. “We thought it was a bogus obstruction call,” Cutrona said. “They hit a tremendous kick into the upper corner of the net. It was just a rocket. But, we still had our chances. We had one shot that hit the cross-bar.”

Cutrona said his team will continue to work on developing more continuity on the field. “Our guys are very young. They don’t understand putting a team away. We need to make our guys understand the importance of continuing to work as a team.” West Hills-Lemoore is 4-3-1 in non-conference games and will be looking to gain a measure of revenge on Friday. “We knocked them out of the playoffs last year, so they will be pumped up,” Cutrona said. “Our guys need to realize that every time we play we have a target on our backs.” The Cougars played for the state title last year. It was the third year out of the last four that TC has been to the final four.

The Cougar women, meanwhile, lost a 2-0 decision Friday at Chaffey College. The loss drops the Cougars to 2-4-1 while Chaffey improves to 6-1-2. TC has two weeks to prepare for the conference opener Oct. 8 against College of the Sequoias in Visalia.

Mt. SAC takes Advantage of Cougar Mistakes
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 23, 2010

The Taft College men’s soccer team is in an uncharacteristic – and uncomfortable – position. For the first time in several seasons, the Cougars find themselves playing below .500 following Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to defending state champion and undefeated Mt. San Antonio College. “We haven’t been in a situation like this,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona, who has taken his team to the state final four in three of the last four seasons.  “But we know we can bounce back.  We did it in 2007 when we has some problems early and then won 14 in a row.”

The Cougars enter today’s 3 o’clock home match with Moorpark (0-2-0) with a 2-3-2 record, No. 9 northern California and No. 20 state ranking. Cutrona said his young team is still making critical mistakes that, at this level, can cost you dearly. “We have 19 freshmen,” he said.  “We are making mistakes that in high school you can recover from, but at the college level you can’t.” Mt. SAC jumped out to a quick lead, scoring in the fourth minute when poor communication cost them a goal. “We gave up a sloppy goal because we didn’t have good leadership,” Cutrona said.  “We had two guys backing off the ball at a critical point.  There was some hesitation and it cost us.”

The Cougars managed to hold off the Mounties the rest of the first half and took control in the second half. “We made things a little more interesting,” Cutrona said.  “I thought we dominated early in the second half.” The Mounties scored 25 minutes into the half to make it 2-0 and take the air out of the Cougar attack. “Our fullback, who is supposed to clear the ball, got his foot caught in the grass when he tried to make a move and their guy was able to get the ball by him.” The Cougars will have a week to get ready for their Central Valley Conference opener next Friday at West Hills-Lemoore. “Hopefully, that will give us enough time to work on eliminating the small mistakes that have been hurting us,” Cutrona said.  “That’s something we really need to fix now.” West Hills-Lemoore is 5-2-0, ranked eighth in NorCal and 18th in the state.


Cougars Host Defending State Soccer Champions
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 20, 2010

Taft College’s men’s soccer team has an opportunity to claim a measure of redemption this afternoon when the Cougars entertain defending state champion and the state’s current No. 1 team. Mt. San Antonio College from Walnut in Southern California handed the Cougars a bitter 2-1 defeat last December in the state championship match played in Sacramento. The Mounties scored on a penalty kick in front of the Cougar net following a hotly disputed hand-ball call.  The winning goal came on an own goal. Mt. SAC comes in with a perfect 5-0 record and is coming off a 2-1 victory over another SoCal powerhouse – Santa Ana.

“This is going to be a big one for us,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona. The Cougars, meanwhile, played to a scoreless tie last Friday with two-time state champion Cerritos in Norwalk. “Cerritos played really wide so you have to make sure you cover your gaps,” Cutrona said.  “At times, we sat back.  They did the very same thing.  I would have preferred that we attacked them more.” He said the game was played primarily in midfield. Cerritos took six shots on goal, but only four were legitimate, Cutrona said.

Cougar goalkeeper Roberto Gonzalez, a freshman from Taft High, blocked all of them. He has started the last two games and has two shutouts. “He’s doing a great job,” Cutrona said. “He’s very quick on his feet.” The Cougars had some good scoring opportunities but couldn’t convert. “We had two golden opportunities and should have come away with a victory,” he said. In today’s 3 o’clock match-up with Mt. SAC, he said he’ll be looking for the visitors to push things. “They are a very high pressuring team.  We need to be safe in the back and need to finish our chances.”

The Cougar women, who are 2-3-1, get things started at 1 p.m. by hosting Antelope Valley College (0-2-0). Both matches are being played on the soccer field at Tenth and San Emidio streets.


TC Soccer: Women Romp, Men Play to Tie
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
Posted September 3, 2009

Taft_vs._L.A._MissionTaft College had mixed results in its first home soccer action Tuesday afternoon when Los Angeles Mission College brought its teams to town. The Cougar women’s team breezed to a 7-0 shutout victory to improve its early season record to 2-1 while the men’s team played to a 2-all tie in its season opener. Freshman midfielder/forward Jessica Miller from Stockdale High in Bakersfield scored a hat trick with three goals and added an assist. Sophomore forward Maria Ibarra scored two goals and had two assists. Freshmen midfielder Cassandra Arroyo (Lancaster High) and Erica Gomez (Palmdale High) each had a goal and an assist, and sophomore midfielder/forward Olivia Gonzales had the other two assists. “Our defense played really well,” said head coach Myisha Cutrona. “We’ve worked really hard on defense first, and the rest will fall into place. “They started off strong and maintained that the whole game. Our back line was very organized.” She praised the work of freshman defender Clare Nissa (Lancaster High) as a major factor in the success of the defense.
Again, her lone sophomores – Ibarra and Gonzales – provided the core leadership. “They’ve been our strength on the field and continued that,” Cutrona said.
Eloisa Lopez (Lancaster) and Caitlin Nicholas (Centennial) shared goalkeeper duties. Each had a save.

In the men’s game, the Cougars had a 2-1 lead until the 77th minute when L.A. Mission scored on a hard shot from the right side that barely eluded Cougar goalkeeper Emilio Miranda. Ruben Barraza and Angel Garcia scored goals for the Cougars with Alberto Garcia and Saul Valencia each getting an assist. The Cougar women are at the Cuesta College tournament in San Luis Obispo today and will play Lassen tomorrow.
The men’s team is in Orange County today playing Fullerton College. Both teams will host Santa Barbara City College next Friday (Sept. 10).