Senior day heroics lead to a California Collegiate Athletic Association playoff berth


Javier Hernandez

Team huddle prior to their matchhup against HSU

Thursday was the last game of the season for the Chico State Men’s Soccer team and everything was in play for them.

If they win, they advance. If they lose, they go home. 

The visiting Humboldt State Lumberjacks had similar circumstances, as long as they didn’t lose they were in California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs.

They faced off earlier in the year in Arcata during non-conference play and the Lumberjacks came out victorious. 

After a rough loss from their last match up, the Wildcats defended their home field and with a 1-0 score advanced to the CCAA playoffs as the sixth seed.

“We were riding a big losing streak and we had a chance to get into the playoffs today with a win, and we achieved that,” Wildcat defender Trevor Fritz said.

This was a playoff game for both squads. The Wildcats took control for the majority of the first half. 

Wildcat midfielder Adrian Fontanelli setup Wildcat forward Jacob Chong 27 minutes into the first half. Chong did the rest and knocked in the first and game-winning goal of the match.

With less than three minutes remaining in the second half, a penalty was called in favor of the Lumberjacks. This was the break they needed, if executed properly they were in the CCAA playoffs. 

Wildcat keeper Luis Albarran versus Lumberjack forward Marcos Silveria for a playoff berth. Albarran had the save of the season and was the hero of the night.

The Wildcats advanced and the Lumberjacks’ season ended.

Despite starting their season off slow, the Wildcats achieved one of their goals, which was reaching the CCAA playoffs. 

“There have been a lot of ups and downs during this season,” Wildcat midfielder Cooper Renteria said. “To finally achieve the goal we have been working for feels good.”

This CCAA playoff berth extends the Wildcats’ streak to four consecutive seasons making the playoffs.

The Wildcats face off against a familiar foe on Sunday, the San Bernardino Coyotes.

The Wildcats and Coyotes have some history going back to the 2019 CCAA playoffs, where the Coyotes defeated the Wildcats 1-0 in the first round. 

Their earlier match up in the year in Chico, resulted in a 3-0 Coyote victory.

Now they meet again in San Bernardino for this year’s CCAA first round of the playoffs.

The third-seeded Coyotes ended their season on a 5-game winning  streak, while the sixth-seeded Wildcats ended on a game winning streak. 

Players to watch from the Coyotes: 

  • Forward Gerardo Flores: Flores leads the team in goals (5) and points (11), is second in shots (25), and leads the team in game winners (3). 
  • Goalkeeper Juan Nieves: Nieves only allowed 11 goals in 16 games resulting in a CCAA second-best .659 goal average. He also has 49 saves on the year with a .817 save percentage, which is good for third in the conference. Nieves also has seven shutouts which ties for second in the conference.

Players to watch for the Wildcats:

  • Forward Jacob Chong: Chong leads the team in goals (7), points (14), shots (50) and game winners (3).
  • Midfielder Liam Duerksen: Duerksen leads the team in assists (8), which is good for second in the conference. Duerksen also is second in shots (39) and points (8).

Both of these teams’ seasons are on the line on Sunday. Anything can happen, the Wildcats just have to ride their momentum to keep their season alive. 

“The job is not finished,” Duerksen said. 
Javier Hernandez can be contacted at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter.