‘Cats compete for Sacramento’s new pro soccer team

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Octavio Guzman

Octavio Guzman

The beauty of a tryout at any level is that an individual gets an opportunity to show why their skills make them special. This past week, three Chico State men’s soccer players experienced this beauty, on the grandest of levels.

Seniors Octavio Guzman, Jake Ward and Tyson Crim made it past the first round of tryouts for the expansion soccer team Sacramento Republic FC this past week.

The new team is holding tryouts for its inaugural season in the United Soccer League, beginning with last week’s invite-only college tryout. The athletes that move on will attend a five-day tryout in January with professional players hoping to make the team.

The tryout was held from Monday to Wednesday and featured between 25-28 college athletes vying for five to seven spots that would allow them to advance to the next round.

The three Wildcats arrived Sunday and had a team meeting. From there, the tryout began.

Monday brought a double day of training; with some technical work in the morning followed by a tactical afternoon pitting offense against defense. Tuesday was filled with another morning training session that focused on ball work, then scrimmage games later on in the day, while Wednesday was primarily filled with scrimmage games.

“It was a lot of fun playing with some really cool college players,” said Ward, a defender. “My goal was to go out there and do the best I could and play hard.”

Crim, the midfielder of the bunch, said that even though it was a little faster and more physical than he was used to, he wanted to go out and make his mark.

“I was trying to play well and separate myself from the other guys,” Crim said. “I wanted to do things that would make me stand out.”

The same attitude goes for Guzman, owner of 14 career goals at Chico State and tied for 10th in school history. Guzman said he wasn’t nervous at all during the tryout and had no fear of the competition whatsoever.

“It was a higher level of play, but nothing I wasn’t used to,” Guzman said. “I was really focused and made sure I was on point with everything.”

Of course, having a little support during the tryout helped too. All three teammates stayed in the same hotel and fed off of each other, both on and off the field.

Crim said that the three would encourage each other to keep working hard and pick each other up on the field. Both Ward and Guzman echoed this point.

“It was nice having them there for their comfort level,” Ward said. “It was great being out there around guys that you know.”

The three will need to stick together more than ever as they head into January’s five-day tryout, featuring as many as 66 players competing for a limited number of roster spots.

The three came into the tryout wanting to see how they stack up against the competition. Now, as they move on to possibly the biggest moment of their athletic careers, these Wildcats are just going to focus and play soccer.

“It’s like any other day of soccer,” Guzman said. “I’m just going to do the same thing, work the same way, and stay really focused. I want to make the most of my time to shine.”

Nick Woodard can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWoodard25

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