A 4-0 win over West Hills-Lemoore Friday pushed the Taft College men’s soccer team back to No. 1 in the state.
With the win, TC remained undefeated (14-0-4) heading into today’s Central Valley Conference title match-up with visiting Fresno City College.
Action at the Tenth Street field begins at 3 p.m. for a game that matches the state’s No. 1 and No. 4 teams.
Fresno (13-4-1), the defending conference champion, has just one loss in CVC play – a 2-0 defeat at home from the Cougars. A Ram victory would make them co-champions if the teams win their regular season finales on Friday.
“I woke up this morning thinking about that game,” Cougar head coach Angelo Cutrona said Monday. “Fresno is a tough, physical team with a chance to be co-champs.”
That, plus Taft’s No. 1 state ranking, should provide plenty of incentive to the visitors.
“We’ll have some added pressure with a lot of university coaches here. That’s the stuff we have to deal with. It’s nervous time now. I can’t wait for it to be over.”
What has Cutrona so nervous is the Rams have a knack for spoiling the Cougar title hopes in the last meeting of the regular season even in years when TC is the higher ranked team.
A great deal is riding on this one.
A Cougar victory would keep them on top of the heap and assure TC of home field advantage throughout the playoffs that begin Nov. 17.
Taft travels to Visalia on Friday to close out the regular season against winless College of the Sequoias.
Friday’s win over West Hills-Lemoore was the 10th shutout in the last 11 games.
Cutrona liked the way his team came out.
“We were very aggressive attacking the goal from minute one,” he said. “We were looking to get ahead as soon as possible.”
It was another step in his plan to position the Cougars for the playoffs.
“We need to perfect our game rather than worry about the other team’s strategy,” he said. “Teams find it very, very hard to play against us. Our style of play makes it difficult for other teams.”
Roberto Mariscal scored two goals to push his total to eight, which is second best on the team.
Freshman forward Ramiro Barraza scored the fourth goal off a long pass from Oscar Barrientos to run his total to 16 goals, fourth best in the state. He also had two assists.
Page 2 of 2 - Trevon Demison had a goal – his sixth of the season – and Julio Lopez had an assist.
In the goal, Roberto Gonzalez worked the first 60 minutes with three saves while Ivan Sanchez had a save during his 30 minutes guarding the net.
Cougar women tie
The Cougar women battled College of the Sequoias to a 1-1 tie in Visalia Friday after beating the Giants in three previous meetings.
The TC women (8-7-3) also play at home this afternoon at 1 against West Hills-Lemoore (2-13-1).