Seeing as how the Owls’ last win came against these very opponents, the team went into Friday’s game against Glendale with confidence that they could win, said head coach Fred Bruce-Oliver.
Their conviction was evident from the very start of the game. Citrus was definitely the aggressor for a majority of the first half, running set plays and moving the ball well on the opposition’s half of the field. The driving force in the Owl offense was international student Ryo Takamine, who’s determined play was evident from the beginning, providing their best scoring attempt in a very close miss shot on goal midway though the first half.
Toward the end of the half, the Owls started to let up a bit and gave up a ground to an increasingly hungry Vaqueros squad. In the 31st minute, Glendale’s offensive counter to Takamine, who coincidentally plays with the same #22, Genaro Brrientos, scored the game’s first goal to break the early stalemate.
Recent history would suggest that the Owls, now down in the game, would switch their game plan to the defensive to prevent additional goals from being scored, that was not the case on Friday. Citrus continued their relentless attack against the Vaqueros defense, and after coming close earlier, Takamine was able to find the back of the net with a goal in the 40th minute, to tie the game at a goal apiece.
After halftime, the biggest storyline of the second half were the one-sided calls being made by the referees, with the obvious advantage for the visitors.
“That’s the way it’s been all season,” Bruce-Oliver said. “The teams doing well always get the better calls.”
Seven minutes into the second half, Vaqueros forward Brrientos struck again with goal number two, putting Glendale back in the lead early in the half. Once again, the Owl’s didn’t let up. Citrus attacked Glendale’s goal for a majority of the remainder of the game, getting the best looks at goal and producing more than a half-dozen corner kicks.
But in the end the Vaqueros were able to hang on to the victory, and for the Owl’s another “L” in the win/loss column, a sight that became all to familiar for men’s soccer this season.
“My time spent here has been precious,” Takamine said. “I’ve had the opportunity to compete against others outside of Japan.” He is planning on transferring to a 4-year university next season.
Another one of Citrus’ go-to players this season was Pedro Felix. “We were very unlucky. No balls [rolled] our way, calls would all be against us, just very unlucky,” Felix replied when asked what he made of this season. When asked whether he’d be back again next season, he said, “Yeah, I’ll be back…I’m only a freshman and Coach [Bruce-Oliver] believes in me.”
“This was a game I thought we could win”, said Coach Bruce-Oliver post game. “Effort, fight, and will, that helps calls go in your favor.” When asked what it’s going to take to be successful next season, Bruce-Oliver replied, “Return players. Guys that come back to contribute and help guide the incoming talent.”
Their final conference record for men’s soccer was 3-10-3, ending what Coach Bruce-Oliver considered, “A very disappointing season.”