Tigers earn playoff berth

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By Celeste Walter

By Celeste Walter

Riverside City College’s men’s soccer team tied Irvine Valley 0-0 at the Nov. 14 conference game held in Irvine. The previous game with Irvine resulted in a 2-4 loss for RCC.

As they did with the recent Santiago Canyon conference game, the Tigers were able to learn from the first game and improve on their mistakes.

Though the Tigers have experienced a rough season, the team has displayed both determination and the ability to adapt to their opponent’s strategy as they prepare for Orange Empire Conference playoffs.

The first conference game of the season against Santiago Canyon ended in a 3-1 loss for RCC.

The team moved on to the Nov. 11 conference game suffering another crushing loss from Santiago.

The RCC conference games against the Fullerton Hornets displayed the same pattern, with the initial Oct. 14 conference game resulting in a 3-2 loss for RCC.

Though, when they stepped onto the field during the Nov. 7 conference game against the same team, the strong Santa Ana winds were the least of the Hornets’ worries.

The team played a fierce game, crushing the Hornets in a 5-1 victory.

Coach Melgarejo credited the team’s improvements to its ability to use what it learned of the opposing teams during previous games.

“We are marking-up more closely, releasing the ball quickly and continuously passing the ball back and forth in an effort to tire the opposing team,” Melgarejo said.

The top 13 teams in each region will move on to the playoffs.

RCC held seventh with a power rank of 2.0600 before the tie, while Irvine held 13th in regional standing, with a power rank of 1.8075.

Mt. San Antonio College, at first place currently, had eight conference wins, three losses and two ties, with a power rank of 2.4523.

Pasadena City College has eight conference wins, three losses and one tie, with a power rank of 2.3167.

Cerritos has nine conference wins, three losses, two ties and a power rank of 2.2636.

Santa Barbara has 12 conference wins, one loss and no ties, with a power rank of 2.1667.

Santa Ana has 10 conference wins, one loss and two ties, with a power rank of 2.1152 and Long Beach has seven conference wins, three losses and three ties.

This team’s increasing keen observation of the opposition’s techniques along with practice helped the team gain a foothold in this season, opening doors to the playoffs.

Alfonso Altamirano was hopeful that the team would make it through playoffs.

“We are much more confident and more comfortable with each other,” Altamirano said. “We were playing as individuals, now we play as a team.”

Antoine Williams, a goal keeper for the Tigers, defined the team’s improvements as an “overall team effort.”

“I got a lot of help from my defense,” Williams said. “Mistakes have cost us games in the past, but we are learning.”

Melgarejo felt there was a good chance for overall success, if the team continued to reach for it.

“We have a strong team. Anything can happen. If they play hard, we can come through.” Melgarejo said.

After winning five straight games, Riverside was selected to host its first-round playoff match against Fullerton on Nov. 22. The match will be held at John W. North High School at 2 p.m.

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