By Cecilia Jaurez
Needing a strong finish to advance to the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s playoffs, the CSUDH men’s soccer team faltered last weekend, losing two 2-1 matches to Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego.
The Toros are currently 4-6 in conference action (4-11-1 overall), and trail sixth-place UC San Diego by eight points. With only two games remaining this season, the squad is mathematically eliminated, as each win is worth three points.
The Toros have had their share of positive and negative moments this season.
Only twice has the team scored first in a match, both resulting in victories. But they’ve also shown resilience, coming from behind three times in home conference games to win twice and tie once.
On Sept. 21 against Sonoma State, the Toros trailed twice, but in overtime with 51 seconds left, junior forward Joshua Varon scored the golden-goal for a 3-2 victory. Then against Cal State East Bay on Oct. 6th, the Toros trailed 2-0 but with eight minutes on the clock, sophomore midfielder George Almeida scored a hat-trick (three goals) for a major comeback. And against Cal State LA after being 2-0 down, with a little over a minute on the clock the team equalized the golden eagles.
“Scoring in the last minute [against CSULA], playing 110 minutes, and against top 8 teams in the nation and we never gave up. I think that says a lot about the young group we have today,” said junior midfielder, JD Hauenstein.
“The [team] that we have is so young and inexperienced,” said men’s soccer Interim Head Coach Sean Lockhart. “Not saying the players don’t have the ability, the talent is there. We just tend to give up goals.”
This season got off to a rough start, as the Toros dropped their first four conference games. Lockhart said a key reason was that he had to recruit new players to replace players from last season’s 13-5-3 team who decided not to return.
“It was hard to find a replacement for those players in a short amount of time,” Lockhart said.
Lockhart said leadership is a current issue on the field since his most experienced player and captain, Austin De Medeiro, tore his ACL on Sept. 21 against Sonoma State.
“Yes, he can lead on the sidelines but on the field, we don’t have that presence,” Lockhart said. “He is not only a leader by voice, but he is also a leader by example. He is a constant captain, he is fearless, he is good with the ball and does a good job in organizing.”
Goal scoring is a common problem for the Toros this season, which has given the team unbalanced statistics as they have struggled in the attacking third.
“We don’t have an established goal scorer which does hurt us. We don’t have a go-to guy,” Lockhart said. “We don’t have a guy that can strike the fear in opponents, every team we played this year has a guy that is their goal scorer.”
The Toros finish their season with matches against Cal State San Bernardino Thursday at 8 p.m. and Cal Poly Pomona Saturday at 2 p.m.