Cougars get No.1 spot after defeating Modesto Junior College

Playing a tough schedule has turned out to be a good thing for the Taft College men’s soccer team.

Despite losing four games, the Cougars have jumped to No. 1 in the state following Tuesday’s 2-0 non-conference victory at Modesto Junior College.

That win vaulted the Cougars over undefeated Mt. San Antonio and once-beaten defending state champion Cerritos thanks to the state power ranking system that rewards teams that beat strong teams on the road.

“We’ve beaten some really good teams,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona.  “A majority of our games are on the road, and that gives us an extra point in the rankings.”

TC tied Mt. SAC and lost to Cerritos, but wins over teams like Fresno, L.A. Mission, Canyons, and Santa Ana helped the Cougars in the power rankings.

Only two of the Cougars’ 17 opponents have losing records.

The win over Modesto, which came in with a 9-3-4 mark, boosts the Cougar record to 12-4-1 heading into next Tuesday’s home tussle with San Joaquin Delta (3-9-3).

Cutrona was concerned about the high winds that buffeted Modesto.

“We had the wind going against us in the first half.  Anything can happen in conditions like that, but our guys managed to keep the ball out of our net, “ he said.

It was scoreless at the half, but the Cougars took advantage of the wind at their backs.
Alex Caceres scored the first goal on a pass from Chris Sandoval.

It was Caceres’ sixth goal of the season.

He got the assist on the second goal – a shot into an open goal off the foot of Miguel Ibarra, his seventh score of the season that ties him for the team lead with Sandoval and Christian Hernandez.

The Cougars scored later on a penalty kick, but the goal was disallowed when one of the players crossed over too soon.

Cutrona said despite the move to the top of the state rankings “our players still seem to be level-headed.”

The focus now, he said, will be on winning the Central Valley Conference.

Fresno leads the CVC with a 2-1-1 record for 7 points, TC is second at 2-2-0 for 6 points, Sequoias 1-1-2 for 5 points and West Hills-Lemoore 1-2-1 for 4 points.

TC defeated Fresno, split with West Hills and lost to Sequoias.

Two conference games remain – at Fresno Nov. 6 and at home against Sequoias on Nov. 13.