BOYS SOCCER: Cougars Close Out Super Season with Playoff Loss

The boys soccer season came to an end this past Tuesday. The Cougars lost to Pioneer High School from Woodland 1-0 at Weston Ranch. The loss knocked the Cougars out of the CIF Division 4 Playoffs and halted their dreams of winning the Section title.

The 3rd seeded Cougars (19-5-5) earned their Round 2 matchup with Pioneer (13-2-1), the #6 seed, after defeating El Dorado 1-0 on February 10th. But, as the Cougars quickly learned, playoff soccer is challenging, and anyone is capable of beating anyone on any given night.

“Pioneer was a good team, but we felt it was a winnable game,” said head coach Francisco Cisneros. “Whenever you lose by the smallest margin, there are always what-ifs, but we came up short at the end of the day.”

After both teams battled to a 0-0 first-half tie, the Patriots scored the first and only goal of the game nine minutes into the second half. From that moment on, the Cougars had to battle a tough Patriot team and had to deal with a stiff wind in their faces and the loss of one of the players after a Red Card. In the end, the Cougars couldn’t overcome those obstacles and couldn’t come up with the equalizing goal.

“The wind got to us in the second half,” said junior midfielder Ivan Guerra. “Towards the end of the game, we tried to attack, but the wind and being down one player made it tough for us to make a rush. So we were definitely at a disadvantage.”

After the Patriots scored their goal, they spent 30 minutes defending the goal, bottling up the Weston Ranch attackers, and playing keep away from the Cougars. But unfortunately, having to chase the ball for the entirety of the second half was not how the Cougars wanted to play, and their emotions and frustrations began to get in the way. The Cougars got tangled up with the Pioneer goalie a few times, and some tempers flared. The result was issuing a Red Card to Weston Ranch and putting the Cougars down a man. It was an unfortunate conclusion to an otherwise brilliant season by Weston Ranch.

“We really took the loss hard,” said Guerra. “We could have done so much more. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t the way we wanted it to end.”

The Cougars will look back on this season and feel the disappointment of Tuesday’s loss, but winning 19 games and eight in the tough VOL should be a reason for them to be proud.

Guerra added, “It was a good season for us. We got 2nd place in the VOL and a playoff win.”

The Cougars will lose ten seniors to graduation. But Guerra feels the Cougars will continue to be a soccer power next year and for the years to come. Weston Ranch moves to the SJAA next year, and according to Guerra, shouldn’t change the Cougars’ attitude at all.

“Losing the seniors will be big holes to fill, but our midfielders return, and so do our forwards. Then, of course, we have to replace Marcos (Arriaza) in goal, but the guys coming up from JV know what we will expect from them, and we expect them to step up. We’re familiar with many SJAA players, so the league change shouldn’t affect us too much.”

Cisneros added, “I’m proud of these guys. They won 19 games and played hard in each one of them. I want to thank all our players for a wonderful season.”