University Field serves as a primary practice field for both the CSUDH men’s and women’s soccer teams as well as the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS. Photo courtesy of Rick Hoskin.
By Bryana Medina, Staff Reporter
The history of the men’s and women’s soccer team is one to remember. These teams have worked hard to make a name for themselves at CSUDH. There’s no doubt that these teams have put their blood, sweat, and tears into the soccer program.
As 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of Toros soccer being in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, these teams have built a community during their time where their college experience has motivated them to become a better version of who they are not only as athletes but people off the field.
Marine Cano, the women’s soccer head coach, started the program in 1984 and founded the first women’s soccer team at CSUDH.
“If you know anything about collegiate soccer recruiting, especially back in those days, it was mission impossible,” Cano said. “I was able to get 12 of the gutsiest kids on the planet that played their hearts out, and four of them never even played soccer before.”
During their first year, they played UC Santa Barbara, who ranked ninth nationally in Division I.
The women’s team was 0-0 at halftime and eventually lost 4-0 with no substitutes and late goals. At the end of it all, they left it all on the field.
“You wouldn’t be able to tell on a stat sheet, but that was when we started our tradition of excellence,” Cano said. “That was when our program was born, when Dominguez Hills arrived.”
The program went on to appear in the CCAA tournament 11 times and won seven CCAA championships. They first appeared in the CCAA in 1991 where they won the school’s first national title.
The women’s team has 10 All-Americans and four of them were NCAA First-Team selections. Coach Cano has also won the title of Coach of the Year in 1992.
The program has an overall record of 398-246-66, and a CCAA record of 166-127-32.
The women’s program continues to achieve the highest potential as athletes on and off the field.
The men’s soccer team remains as one of the most decorated teams at CSUDH. The program has an illustrious history but has taken a step back in recent years.
Toros men’s soccer has won titles like two NCAA DII National Championships (2000, 2008) and nine CCAA championships.
The man who put the Toros on the map was Joe Flanagan, who coached from 1994-2017. He was a five-time CCAA Coach of the Year, and two-time national Coach of the Year. Flanagan left his legacy at CSUDH and the program strives to maintain the success he brought.
As the men’s soccer program grows, a few players have reached the top tier level of professional soccer.
Kevin Hartman is a retired goalkeeper who played for the Los Angeles Galaxy. He attended CSUDH in 1992-1993. Hartman holds the record for most saves in MLS history and was the first MLS goalkeeper to have consecutive 20-win seasons.
Kei Kamara, who is currently playing for Minnesota United FC, played at CSUDH in 2004-2005. In his second year playing for CSUDH he was named third team All-American. Kamara has won awards like the MLS Humanitarian of the Year award in 2015, and MLS joint top-scorer in 2015.
Lastly Tony Alfaro, who played for CSUDH from 2011-2015, was named First Team All American by the NSCAA and a Division II CAA Second Team All-American. He started all 21 games in his senior year at CSUDH. Alfaro currently plays for Atlético Zacatepec.
Current Toros head coach Eddie Soto has seen the team grow tremendously in his short time with the program.
Soto began coaching the men’s soccer team two years ago. He did not feel the pressure of keeping up to par in a program that had accomplished so much.
“I was an elite athlete, I worked at some elite programs and it just comes with the territory,” Soto said. “Their past success strives me to push harder.”
Motivation is what the men’s team values to keep striving for success.
“I just want to keep their motivation, making sure they are mentally and physically in check.” Soto said.
Coach Soto’s main priority right now is mental health and being aware of everything that is going on to keep the success of the program going.
The men and women’s soccer programs are models of excellence that truly represent what it means to be a Toro athlete, fueled by a rich past full of individual and team success. The current teams are guided by coaches who love the game of soccer and value what it’s like to be an athlete. The future of Toros soccer looks to be bright with a strong foundation and history already set in place.