Full Disclosure: ’Cats reverse bad luck
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The end of the Chico State men’s soccer team’s season poorly reflected its effort.
After going without a win in their first four games of their conference, the Wildcats turned the season around and won seven of the last eight games.
The win streak propelled the Wildcats to the top of their conference, and a fourth-place finish led them to their first post-season in three years.
To change the pace of its season, the team relied on first-year defender Alex Fluitt, who led the team with five assists this season. The previous tactic of putting the team’s success on senior forward Omar Nuno gave defenders the opportunity to box him out and prevent him from getting clear shots.
The implementation of the team’s bench players into the rotation helped Chico State snag critical wins at the end of its season. Of the 22 goals Chico State made, seven came from players who did not start or started less than half of the year.
Nuno remained the consistent scoring option for the team with 10 goals and became only the second Wildcat in the last decade to have two seasons with double-digit scoring numbers.
The team relied on junior starting goalkeeper Damion Lewis throughout the season, who allowed only four goals in the Wildcats final nine games. Lewis allowed 13 goals this year but made 56 saves.
A key factor to the team this year was its aggressive play style, as fights and fouls dictated its earlier games. Although Chico State continued to receive a card in every game this season except against Cal State L.A. the fights on the field stopped when the winning started.
The team ended its season in the first round of the CCAA Tournament, on the Wildcats home field against Cal State San Bernardino. Although the team made strides late in the year and was seeded higher than its opponent, the Wildcats fell on a last minute goal by the Coyotes.
The team will have severe gaps to fill in the next season, with lead forward Nuno graduating, as well as senior forward Rajaee DeLane. Both acted as the main scorers and contributors to the team and made game-winning shots and plays during their time at Chico State.
While the team is losing some key players, the productivity of athletes like Fluitt and forward Mikey Hirsch who scored one goal this season show the potential of the team.
The overall accomplishment of the team extends beyond the one loss to Cal State San Bernardino, as the Wildcats broke a three-year cold streak and turned around their season.
Gabriel Moreno can be reached at [email protected] or @GabeSports3 on Twitter.