November 26, 2013

Men’s soccer team breaks even with 5-9-5 season
By Nash Kurilko

COM soccer players Jose De La Rosa and Quinn Lima double team Moises Arroyo of Napa Valley College on their way to a 2-1 win last month.

COM soccer players Jose De La Rosa and Quinn Lima double team Moises Arroyo of Napa Valley College on their way to a 2-1 win last month.

COM’s men’s soccer team finished off a middling season comprised of five wins, nine ties, and five losses. Coach Ben Studholme thinks the next season will only be better. “It’s gone well,” he said prior to the final game. “There’s specifically a fall season, in this season we play 20 games, 12 are conference games and eight are non-conference games. It started in mid-August and it ends in mid-to-early December depending on that ability of the team to make the playoffs.”

Men’s soccer hasn’t been in the regional playoffs since the 2008 season, and this season, with a lot of new blood and fresh faces, the Mariners were nearly set to follow through on that. They boasted a strong backline of defenders like Larry Estrada and Mohammed Manneh, and their offense, while mostly newbies, were set to increase their skills and help drive up their ability to score. Last season, that was the exact problem—there weren’t enough players skilled enough to consistently score. Over the 20 games of that season, the Mariners only bagged 11 goals. This season, the tally was raised somewhat to 14 goals in 13 games.

The first two games were uneventful, the first a 2-2 tie with De Anza and the second a 2-0 loss against Chabot. But by far the most dramatic game of the early season was the September 13, Friday afternoon game against Skyline. Initially the Mariners lagged behind at 2-0, but then, when all hope had failed, our lads came back with a resounding four goals to win the game at 4-3. Those four goals in one game, out of a total of 14 goals in 13 games, clearly show that the Mariners gave their best performance that day. The game was played at Kentfield.

The first Mariners goal of the game was during the first half, when Striker Michael Carvalho scored. COM went into halftime trailing 2-1, but then, just five minutes into the second half, Striker Larry Estrada scored, tying up the game. The Mariners went on to score twice more, a third by Estrada and a fourth by Mohammed Manneh in the dying gasps of the game. The Mariners played Ohlone on the road on the following Tuesday, which resulted in a 1-1 tie.

The next few games followed a similar pattern of trading losses for ties, until the October 8 game against Napa, where the Mariners won 2-1.

The pattern continued again until the 18th, when the Mariners won again against Yuba, again at Kentfield. With two goals in the first 20 minutes of the game, it ended at 2-0. Again, the coordinated Mariners defense was on full display.

“We’re fast, we’re not the most physical team in the world, but if we do get the ball to the players, we have about five or six guys that are true playmakers. And if we play quickly and get away from the more physical teams, then we tend to have quite a bit of success. I’ve got a couple of kids who are really good around the goal, so it’s just a matter of staying away from the physicality of the games and dictating the tempo through ball movement and speed of play,” Studholme said.

Imran Nana is a midfield player on the team and he also studies economics at the college. “[the season] went okay. We definitely could have done better, but it was just about what we expected. We do tend to score a decent amount of goals, and we’re pretty even all around. Guess we don’t keep enough shutouts would probably be my thing,” he said regarding the team’s strengths and weaknesses. “We do score goals, though.”

“There’s three probably I’d call the best on the team, Austin Miranda on defense, standout, he kept out a lot of goals. When he’s on our team he just makes it so much better. Alan Estrada’s played really good, he’s one of the more creative players, and then his brother Larry Estrada. Almost every goal has one of them behind it.”

Right-left defence and English/Creative Writing student Andrew Lino agreed with Nana about the Estradas. “I’ve seen Larry do some incredible things on the field to pull us out of holes that we dug ourselves in, I’ve seen Alan playing in midfield also pull us out of holes. A lot of it is that when things go wrong in a soccer game, you just have to keep playing on,” he said.

“But on any given day, it could be some other player who steps out and wins it for the team.”

Asked what he thought about the Mariners’ strengths and weaknesses, he also agreed with Anna that Austin Miranda’s defensive game was always top-notch. “We have a very strong defense when our starting defensive line is in tip-top condition. Our offense has potential to be really strong when they aren’t getting down on themselves or dealing with injuries. Our midfield has a lot of potential, there’s still disconnect between the defense and midfield, and sometimes between the midfield and the offense, and whether that’s the offense’s fault of the midfield’s fault, well, I don’t know. It’s touch-and-go.”

“I would say the most valuable players are Larry Estrada, he’s a sophomore, he’s smaller in size and frame but he knows how to go, he’s got a real motor, great skill and a true passion for the game. Another sophomore is Michael Carvalho, he’s just around the ball, he’s got a nose for the goal, he’s very fast and light on his feet,” Lino said.

Studholme said that the 2.0 grade-point average required to play on the team was normally too demanding, but that it did depend entirely on the student.

“Consistently, you know, with the JC, it’ll always be a young team. You’ll always hear we have a lot of freshmen, unfortunately, that’s just the way it works. Guys just don’t understand the real college atmosphere in terms of responsibility. They’re not used to it, so they have a tendency that when push comes to shove, they fail. And then figure out how to deal with failure. So usually, I’ll have a kid who’ll come here and take three years to play two, or four years to play two. He just won’t understand how to ‘compete in the classroom’ yet.”

“I would say I’m very hands on, I’m very strict and rigid, since what I’m asking them to do is very specific. I would say this is a player’s game, so I try to give them as much information and training as possible so that they can apply what’s necesarry for success I wouldn’t say I try to constrain them on any level other than I try to let them know, “Hey, this game will reward us if we do simple things well,” Studholme said.

“I think he’s a devoted coach,” Lino said of Studholme. The last game was on Tuesday, November 12, and was against Napa in Napa at 3:00 PM. Unfortunately, the Mariners suffered a 4-2 loss, and ultimately finished out the season with a 5-9-5 record.


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