Both Taft College soccer teams open state playoff action Saturday – the men hosting a game while the women will hit the road.
The Cougar men were seeded No. 5 in the northern California playoffs and will entertain No. 12 Las Positas College of Livermore Saturday at 2 p.m. on the San Emidio Street field.
Las Positas finished 10-6-3 and was runner-up in the north division of the Coast Conference.
The Hawks lost to Cougar rival Fresno 1-0 early in the season.
Leading scorers are Efrain Bonilla, Jesus Carriedo and Jonathan Orozco.
Head coach Angelo Cutrona said he knows very little about Las Positas other than “our statistics are pretty similar. I know it’s going to take a group effort to win Saturday.”
The Cougar women, drawing the No. 10 seed, will make the 388 mile, six hour plus trip to Ukiah to take on No. 7 and undefeated Mendocino College (16-0-4) at 2 p.m.
The Eagles are champions of the Bay Valley Conference, have scored 82 goals and allowed just 14. Team leader is Anna Waldman, who has scored 30 goals, fourth best in the state.
The men’s team repeated as Central Valley Conference champion, but the women fell short in their bid for their first crown a week ago when they lost a bid to unseat Fresno, the No. 1 north seed.
The men’s team got off to a slow start this season after going undefeated last season before falling to state champion Mt. San Antonio in the semifinals. The Cougars won their last eight games to finish 12-5-2.
The women’s team got off to a good start before losing twice to Santa Barbara but tied southern California powerhouse Chaffey. They tied Fresno on the road then lost at home, the only blemishes on their conference record.
Head coach Myisha Cutrona isn’t too worried about the long trip north.
“We plan to leave at 5:30 Saturday morning,” she said. “That should give us time to work out the stiffness from the long bus ride.”
Her advice to her team:
“It’s a great experience for these girls. I want them to enjoy the experience. Don’t leave the field with any regrets.”
If both teams win they will advance to the next Tuesday’s second round.
The men would be matched up with the winner of the No. 13 Cabrillo at No. 4 Hartnell match-up – hosting if Cabrillo wins but traveling to Salinas if Hartnell triumphs.
Page 2 of 2 - If the women upset Mendocino, the Cougars would play the winner of No. 15 Las Positas at No. 2 Sierra. TC would host if lower seed Las Positas shocks Sierra.
Started season 2-3, then tied twice and lost twice for a subpar 4-5-2 record before going on an eight-game winning streak and outscoring opponents 28-2. The last six matches were shutouts. Biggest win during streak was 1-0 at San Bernardino Valley College, the No. 2 seed in the south behind four-time state champion Mt. San Antonio.
Top scorers: freshman forward Rogelio Sustaita (7 goals/8 assists), Oscar Torres (9 goals/2 assists), Diego Casillas (6 goals/2 assists), Ruben Alvarez (5 goals/3 assists). Thirteen players have scored goals. Cougars have given up just 19 goals in 19 games.
Goalkeeper J.D. Cisneros has allowed 11 goals with 59 saves.
Injuries: three starters out but “I’m not too worried about that because we have other players who have stepped up,” Angelo Cutrona said.
Myisha Cutrona’s team posted the best record (13-4-2) since the program began in 2006. Of the four losses two came at the hands of southern California power Santa Barbara (12-5-2). One was to College of the Canyons (16-1-4). Highlight of the season was the scoreless tie with Chaffey, a team coached by her sister-in-law. That was significant because Chaffey (19-1-1) and has scored 120 goals.
Leading scorers are Joanna Espinoza (24 goals/12 assists), Cristina Salazar (10 goals/10 assists) and Celia Rangel (7 goals/2 assists).
Goalkeeper Marissa Alcala has allowed 16 goals and has 55 saves.