Once again, men’s soccer doesn’t score


Goalkeeper Damion Lewis makes a save during a Wildcat’s home game while a fight occurs on the field. Photo credit: Royal T Lee-Castine

A 1-3-2 season record and a previous two-game losing streak show the struggles that men’s soccer has faced early on in the season.

With only 12 CCAA games to dictate their postseason, the ‘Cats have already lost one and tied one. The lack of points the ‘Cats have gained is not enough to lead them to the NCAA Championship tournament.

A large part of the ‘Cats problem is their impotent offense, with only four goals scored so far this season. Of their four, all have come from senior forward Omar Nuño, who has shot at the highest volume on the ‘Cats roster with 20.

The team’s reliance on Nuño to score has given Chico State tunnel vision, as they prevent their other forwards from getting quality possessions. Senior forward Rajaee DeLane has played only 91 minutes in the last two games, compared to Nuño’s 173.

The 4-3-3 formation Chico State has implemented has thrown off the ‘Cats offense, as it prevents the forwards from effectively using their midfielders. With Nuño and DeLane unable to assist one another by being left in the corners, the only scoring option Chico State is left with is directly through the middle.

The previous 4-4-2 setup Chico State relied on gave them only two scoring options but did not force the forwards into the corners. With limited mobility and passing options, forwards are forced to shoot low percentage shots, or take on several defenders and make impossible plays.

Chico State has relied on one of their four goalkeepers for every game this season. Junior Damion Lewis is a transfer student who has 23 saves for Chico but has allowed 6 shots, which have resulted in 3 losses for the ‘Cats.

While Lewis has had several important saves for Chico State, he is outranked in seniority and experience by two of the other goalkeepers on the roster. Sophomore Luke Dennison and junior Triston Montoya have both been on the team since their first year.

Montoya stepped up as the ‘Cats’ second string last year, by starting five games toward the end of the season and grabbing 14 saves. Montoya allowed six goals but lead the ‘Cats to a 3-2-0 record as the goalkeeper last year.

Chico State tied their last game as a result of their new formation, but did not play aggressively and had no corner or free kicks in the game. The ‘Cats earned three offsides because of the formation and played with the intent to tie instead of win.

The frustration of the players on the field is clear, as fouls and fights run amuck during the game as players realize they cannot win without an effective offensive strategy.

By changing back to the formation the players are comfortable with, working more players into the rotation, and playing to win, the ‘Cats can turn their season around and be a top contender for the NCAA Championships.

Kenta McAfee can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports on Twitter.