The Taft College men’s soccer team – regularly among the state’s elite programs – is searching for answers after an unusually slow start.
The Cougars are 1-2 in the early going after dropping a 3-1 decision last Friday to East Los Angeles College. Both losses were on the road.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona. “We got to figure this out.”
One problem could be the reputation Cutrona has built over the past decade.
Another could be inexperience. He has only five returnees from a team that was undefeated before falling to eventual state champion Mt. San Antonio in the semifinals.
“You just can’t show up and expect to win,” he said. “We just didn’t show up the right way. That’s not a knock on East L.A. They played well and we didn’t.”
Cutrona felt his team was not prepared for the season opener against Long Beach City College – a 2-1 loss – but came back with a good effort the night before the East L.A. match in a 1-0 win at Santa Barbara City College.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe by traveling you can use the bus ride to better prepare mentally. We haven’t played well at all in our two home games.”
He’s hoping for a better effort today when the Cougars host College of the Canyons.
There could be a little rivalry brewing for that one because the Cougars have six players who are familiar with Canyons players because they live in that college’s district but chose to come to TC.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier after that when the team travels to Walnut this weekend to play Southwestern (Friday) and City College of San Francisco (Saturday) in the Mt. SAC tournament. CCSF was last year’s state runner-up.
The schedule takes another step up after that.
TC will host Mt. SAC Sept. 20 and Cerritos Sept. 24. Both have won state championships.
“We’ll just have to keep working hard,” Cutrona said. “We’ve got to find out what it takes to turn things around, but I know we can do that.”
In the win at Santa Barbara freshman forward Anthony Ulloa (Highland High) scored the only goal of the match off an assist from Rogelio Sustaita. Goalkeeper Marco Vieyra, a freshman from Monache, had five saves to earn the shutout.