The season is over for the Coast Union boys and girls soccer teams, and while they played a bit better Feb. 1 at McFarland High School (losing 3-1), on Saturday, Feb. 4, the boys were shut out, 3-0.
As to the McFarland game (played in the San Joaquin Valley), after having struggled late in the season, coach Luis Plasencia said the players’ skills, focus and hustle showed improvement. Still, the team had four opportunities to score, and the only goal was booted in on a corner kick by Damien Fernandez.
Diego Leonardo was solid in the net for the Broncos, making seven saves.
On Saturday, Feb. 4, at home against Liberty High School, Plasencia said Liberty scored all its goals in the first half, and Coast was unable to answer.
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Next year, Plasencia will have seven or eight seniors on the team. He said a successful team needs to work on skills and conditioning “year around” and hopes he can persuade his players to engage in soccer during the offseason.
The Lady Broncos, meanwhile, ended their season by losing to McFarland 3-0 on Wednesday, Feb. 1, in the San Joaquin Valley. Coach Victoria McConnell gave credit to Cynthia Cadena for saving more than 20 shots on goal, and she noted that shots were taken on goal by Coast players Gabby Cisneros, Kaelani Ribera and Emma Sison.
McConnell also credited Ribera (six goals) and Ashly Colins (five goals) as top scorers on the team this season, and she praised freshman Maria Castillo for stepping up and replacing defensive standout Gigi Stoothoff when Stoothoff suffered a season-ending broken ankle early in the season.
Notwithstanding the relative success in the first seven matches (Coast went 3-3-1), McConnell said the girls “stopped playing as a team and began to play as individuals” in late December. “They were not a united team,” she continued, and they “did not even care to win.”
That said, McConnell said she takes “full responsibility as a head coach. I don’t know if the girls lost faith in each other, or in me. If I do return next year, I will strive to remedy this fractured team through discipline and hard work, consistency and team building.”
Aaron Wharton, whose freshman daughter, Ani, played on the team, said the players weren’t coached as well “as they needed to be.” The girls have basic soccer skills that many learned playing CYAA soccer, but they needed to be “blended into a team environment,” at the high school level, said Wharton, who coached CYAA soccer.
He said that “conditioning took a back seat” in the later stages of the season, and Wharton believes the dearth of intense conditioning may have been responsible for the many injuries the team suffered, especially in the second half of several late-season games.
In fairness, Wharton said, the team lost an extraordinarily talented defensive player in senior Stoothoff.
“She was the defensive captain — she kept people in their proper place.”
Other key players suffered injuries, Wharton noted, but he added that McConnell seemed to lack the communication leadership needed from the sidelines during games.
With an eye to next soccer season, Wharton said he, along with other parents of players, will work toward making soccer more visible in the community.
“There’s no booster support, there’s no snack bar and no support coming from the administration,” he said. “We want to get more people from the community out watching the games.”