Taft College men’s soccer coach Angelo Cutrona believes his team is starting to hit its stride after an uncharacteristically slow start.
The Cougars got a boost of confidence Tuesday when they defeated Modesto Junior College 3-1 in Modesto. MJC came into the game ranked No. 1 in northern California and No. 4 in the state.
It was the third of four crossover games between the Central Valley Conference and Big 8. Modesto (9-2-1) was undefeated before losing to Fresno 2-1 and Taft in the last two outings.
“We got off to a really good start,” Cutrona said of Tuesday’s win. “We put them on their heels early and kept up the pressure. Our guys definitely had a good attitude.”
He thinks the team is starting to play with more consistency.
“We are really working on being a possession team with a lot of forward play. We attacked in a lot of spaces that gave us a lot of opportunities in the first half.”
Despite the chances the Cougars managed only one goal but came out strong in the second half and built a 3-0 lead before Cutrona began clearing his bench.
“I took out all of our starters to give the bench some playing time,” he said. “I thought it was important to show them I have enough confidence in them to put them in a game against a quality team.”
His subs gave up a goal with about five minutes left, “a mistake that was due to their inexperience. I would have preferred a shutout but felt it was more important to give them that experience.”
Andres Iniguez, Jose Barajas and Diego Casillas got the Cougar goals. Rogelio Sustaita had two assists and Edgar Rodriguez the third.
The win improved TC’s overall record to 5-5-2 heading into today’s final Big 8 crossover at home against San Joaquin Delta College (5-7-1).
A win over Delta would give the Cougars a 2-2 record against the Big 8, one of the top conferences in northern California.