Taft College Cougars Men's Soccer
Taft College Cougars Men's Soccer

With a remarkable returning class, Taft College Men`s Soccer program is looking to carry on in the same fashion. With experience under the belt, the coaches are looking to bring in freshmen from Kern County to compliment their talents.

Several soccer players have continued on to universities such as UNLV, UCI, CSULA, and CSUB. The coaching staffs` efforts are aimed toward those athletes who wish to continue both their athletic and academic careers at the university level. The men's soccer program is designed for those student athletes who believe that hard work and dedication is a means to success.

TC Soccer Champs Finally Get Their Just Rewards
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
February 5, 2015

It took a while but the Taft College men’s soccer team finally received the spoils it was due for winning its third straight Central Valley Conference title.

The awards – a trophy and two plaques – were scheduled to be presented at a fall sports award banquet but the ones that arrived belonged to the Fresno City College women’s soccer team which accomplished the same feat as the Cougar men.

So Athletic Director Kanoe Bandy decided to surprise the team and coaches last week during a chilly, overcast morning practice session.

It’s the way she chose to do it that created both a little drama and anxiety for the team and their head coach, Angelo Cutrona.

Bandy sent Cutrona an email saying she wanted to talk to the team and coaches at the next day’s practice –without mentioning any specifics.

Ironically, that memo closely followed one about random drug testing, something TC does with its athletes.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Cutrona said.  “I emailed her back and asked her if she could give me an idea what she wanted to talk about because I didn’t like surprises.  The response I got back just said, ‘no.’”

That added more confusion and intrigue to those first two messages, so he called his team together at the dorms.

“I told them I didn’t know what was going on, but we should remember that we’re a team and we should stick together and support each other.”

So Cutrona, his assistant coaches and the team waited anxiously the next morning at its practice field.

All the worry and anxiety evaporated when Bandy arrived with a box containing the trophy the team earned for winning its third straight conference title along with plaques recognizing Player of the Year Ruben Alvarez and three-time Coach of the Year Cutrona.

The mood quickly changed – after a collective sigh of relief.

Bandy assured Cutrona and his team that she would never have created that sort of drama if she were going to deliver bad news.

“I wouldn’t do that to you,” she said.

The Cougars won their third straight conference title and advanced through the playoffs to the Final Four where they lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to eventual state champion Cerritos College.  They finished No. 1 in northern California, No. 3 in the state and No. 4 in the nation.

Taft Looks to Gain on State's Soccer Elite
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
December 4, 2014

When people talk about California community college soccer supremacy these days, Taft College is unquestionably part of the conversation.

But when the California community college soccer championships play out this weekend at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, two other names ring with more familiarity.

That’s because host Mt. SAC and rival Cerritos are more closely associated with championships.

The Mounties have won four state titles and the Falcons two in the past eight years.
Although Taft is ranked No. 1 in the state (No. 2 in the nation), brings an unbeaten record to the big dance, and has one state crown, the other two boast more championship “creds.”

But the Cougars hope to gain some ground.

Rounding out the mix is unheralded De Anza College of Cupertino, which is trying to regain the prominence the Dons found in 1997 when they won the state title.

In Friday’s semifinals No. 1 north seed Taft (21-0-2) plays No. 2 south seed Cerritos (13-3-7) while No. 1 south Mt. SAC (13-4-6) meets No. 2 north De Anza (20-1-1).  Both games start at 4 p.m. at Mt. SAC’s soccer complex.  The survivors meet Sunday at 10 a.m. in the title match.

The Cougars have been to the championships four times: 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012, winning in ’07, bridesmaids in ’06 and ’09 and bowing out in the semifinals two years ago.

Mt. SAC factored in three of those – losing to the Cougars in the ’07 semifinals, beating them for the title in ’09 and knocking them out in the 2012 semis.

TC’s only collision with Cerritos in the final four was in 2006 when the Falcons edged the Cougars 1-0 for the championship in a driving rainstorm, but they’re common opponents.

Overall, the Cougars have played each seven times without much success, going 1-2-4 against MSAC and 2-2-3 against Cerritos.

TC played both this season, beating Cerritos 2-1 in Norwalk on Sept. 19 on an own goal following a corner kick in the 90th minute and playing a scoreless tie at Mt. SAC four days later. 
“Cerritos is a very strong team and likes to bring a physical style of play,” Cougar coach Cutrona said.  “They know how to grind it out.”

That physical style was evident when the two met this year.  The Falcons were whistled for 13 fouls and drew three yellow cards compared to Taft’s seven and one respectively.
The Cougars, who play more of a finesse style, outshot the Falcons 16-10 and had more shots on goal (10-6).

Mt. SAC has stumbled at times this season but finished strong and was awarded the No. 1 seed in the southern California playoffs.

“Because they have so much tradition, Mount SAC always finds a way to get it done,” Cutrona said.  “When it’s championship time they’re always right in the thick of things.”

Taft has never played De Anza but would if both can beat the SoCal powerhouses – a tall order given all that tradition surrounding the Mounties and Falcons.

A team from the north won it all last year when Hartnell of Salinas defeated, who else, Mt. San Antonio.

The Cougars will be without starting forward Axel Cruz, a freshman from Delano (Cesar Chavez High), who strained ligaments in his right ankle in last Saturday’s win over Fresno that put Taft in the championships.

Comeback puts Taft College in State Soccer Finals
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
November 29, 2014

After the final whistle blew, after a scuffle broke out, after the other team’s goalkeeper went after the referee, after order was restored and after the opposing players got a police escort to their bus, the Taft College men’s soccer team locked arms, danced in a circle and chanted “Fi-nal Four! Fi-nal Four! Fi-nal Four!”

It was a fitting celebration for a team that had just come from behind to beat Fresno City College 2-1 and earn a trip to the state championships.

The Cougars will take an unbeaten record (21-0-2) and a No. 1 state ranking to Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut Friday where they will play Cerritos College in the semifinals.

In the other semi-final host Mt. SAC will play De Anza College of Cupertino.

Both matches will begin at 4 p.m. on adjacent fields.

The winners will play on Sunday to decide the state champion.

TC comeback
Taft spotted Fresno a 1-0 lead on a free kick by Christian Chaney in the 41st minute, but the Cougars took control of the match in the second half, drawing even three minutes in on a penalty kick by Ramon Chavez.

The game winner came six minutes later when leading scorer Ramiro Barraza took a pass from Ruben Alvarez following a corner kick and sent it past Fresno goalkeeper Cesar Hernandez for his 18th goal of the season.

“Our resilience was the key,” said Cougar coach Angelo Cutrona.   “It’s never a good feeling at the half to be down 1-0.  We didn’t play as well as we should have, so I think we played the second half as though we had nothing to lose.  We had to push the ball forward.”

The Cougars did just that, attacking with nearly every possession and keeping the Rams from threatening.

It was Taft’s third win over Fresno this season.  The Cougars beat the Rams 2-1 and 3-1 in their two Central Valley Conference meetings.

“It’s always a little scary playing a team you’ve beaten twice,” Cutrona said.
The trip to the state championships will be TC’s fifth.  They won in 2007, were runner-ups in 2006 and 2009 and were eliminated in the semi-finals two years ago – also at Mt. SAC and also when the Cougars were undefeated.

Prior meetings
TC played both Cerritos and Mt. SAC in the regular season.  They beat Cerritos 2-1 on Sept. 19 and played a scoreless tie with Mt. SAC four days later.  Both games were on the road.

Mt. SAC has won four state titles and Cerritos two, so both of those programs have championship credentials.

“Cerritos is a very strong team and likes to bring a physical style of play,” Cutrona said. 

“They know how to grind it out.  Mt. SAC has struggled at times this season but just finds a way to get it done.”

The Cougars may have lost starting forward Axel Cruz, a freshman from Cesar Chavez High, who suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury in the first half and had to be carted off the field.

“It’s not as bad as it could have been,” Curtona said.  “He took a hard hit.  He’s very doubtful for Friday.  It’s a big blow for us, but we believe in our other players.”

However, forward Oscar Torres, who had to sit out after being disqualified in the quarterfinal win over Hartnell with two yellow cards, will be back in the lineup.

What: California State Soccer Championships
When: Friday at 4 p.m.
Where: Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut CA

Teams: No. 1 South Mt. San Antonio (13-4-6) vs. No. 2 North De Anza (20-1-1); No. 1 North Taft (21-0-2) vs. No. 2 South Cerritos (13-3-7)

Cougar Men Advance in Playoffs
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
November 26, 2014

Sophomore forward Ramiro Barraza scored the only goal of the game in the second overtime Tuesday to give Taft College a 1-0 victory over visiting Hartnell in the second round of the men’s soccer playoffs.

Freshman midfielder Axel Cruz, who prepped at Cesar Chavez High in Delano, got free on the right side and sent a perfect pass to Barraza, who broke free on the left side and was one-on-one with Hartnell goalkeeper Eddie Martinez.  The Cougar leading scorer sent a perfect header into the net past a devastated Martinez.

Until that goal with less than four minutes left Martinez had blocked all eight of TC’s shots on goal.

The win sends the Cougars into the semifinals Saturday at 2 p.m. on the Taft High soccer complex at Tenth and San Emidio streets where they will face a familiar foe.

No. 5 Fresno City College needed penalty kicks to defeat No. 12 Contra Costa 3-2.
The Cougars, the No. 1 seed in northern California and unbeaten at 20-0-2, defeated Fresno twice (2-1 and 3-1) in Central Valley Conference play.

Cougar coach Angelo Cutrona is a bit worried about playing a team for the third time after winning twice.

“That can be a little scary,” he said.  “You don’t like giving a team a third chance.  When you play a team twice they know how you play and can change things up.  That can work against you.”

On the other hand the same holds true for the Cougars but they’ll have to be alert for any surprises in Fresno’s tactics.

The prize for the winner will be a trip to the state championships Dec. 5 and 7 as one of the two northern California representatives.

Cutrona wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall performance against Hartnell.
“We didn’t play one of our best games today,” he said.

The Cougars lost a key starting player when Oscar Torres received a second yellow card with two minutes left to play.  Two yellow cards equal a red so Torres must sit out the Fresno game.

Torres, who leads the team in assists, was carded for a delaying tactic.
Cutrona said that while Torres will be missed he has confidence in his bench and plans not changes in strategy.

“We’ll be fine,” he said, adding he didn’t think Torres should have received his first yellow card early in the game.

“The video shows he was the one kicked, not the other way around.  I thought the referee should have just added time to the game instead of giving Oscar a yellow card.  That would have been the more professional thing to do.  But, he may have forgotten that he gave Oscar a yellow early in the game.”

Cutrona holds the sophomore forward in high regard.

“He plays with such composure and intelligence.  Oscar has a high soccer I.Q.  He is very valuable to us because of the confidence he brings.  We’ll miss him but we have guys who can step in.  We won’t have to change up the way we do things.”

Cougar Men's Soccer Makes Statement
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
November 11, 2014

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – “We made a statement today.”

Those were the words of Taft College men’s soccer coach Angelo Cutrona on Tuesday after his Cougars shut out the state’s highest scoring team.

The 4-0 non-conference win over Chaffey College kept the Cougars undefeated at 18-0-2 heading into Friday’s regular season finale in Visalia against College of the Sequoias.

Beating Chaffey all but puts an exclamation point on the season as the Cougars anticipate getting the No. 1 seed when northern California playoffs begin Nov. 22.

Going into the match Chaffey was ranked No. 1 in California and Taft No. 2.  In the national rankings, however, the Cougars were No. 2 and Chaffey No. 4.

It was a rare late season non-conference match that coincidentally also was a matchup of the state’s top two teams.  It followed TC’s 3-1 win over Fresno that clinched the Cougars’ third straight Central Valley Conference championship.

The Cougars can wrap up an undefeated regular season if they can take care of business today in Visalia.  In the first round of conference play the Cougars beat COS 2-0 in Taft.

Close match, then . . .
Cutrona said the Chaffey match was evenly contested in the early going.

“It was a good contest the first half hour,” he said.  “It was back and forth.  They put three forwards on top a lot.”

That tactic made the Panthers the highest scoring team in the state with 72 goals.  Chaffey averaged four goals a game and had never been held to fewer than two goals – until Taft came to town.

“There were glimpses where we started to take over the game,” Cutrona said

Then Taft scored first off a corner kick.

“I thought we had a good opportunity to score on a corner kick with the play we set up,” he said. 

Freshman midfielder Jesus Villalpando launched a perfect pass that Ramon Chavez headed into the net.

Chaffey had one scoring opportunity in the first half but goalkeeper JD Cisneros rejected it in what Cutrona described as “a fantastic save.  It was a hard deflection that looked like it would go in but JD came up huge.”

TC’s attack picked up steam in the second half when Ramiro Barraza scored off a pass from Oscar Torres to make it 2-0.

Barraza, TC’s leading scorer with 18 goals, scored again a short time later off an assist from Edgar Rodriguez.

“Those two goals came so quick it deflated Chaffey,” Cutrona said.
Cesar Medina scored the final goal with about five minutes left.  Jose Barajas got the assist.

Cutrona was especially proud of the shutout.

“They had scored at least two goals in every game,” he said.  “We played an excellent second half and shut down their opportunities.  We shut them down completely.  JD made a great save on their only real opportunity.  The rest was our defenders.”

The win was TC’s 10th in a row.  The Cougars started the season by winning their first eight before playing scoreless ties against Mt. San Antonio and West Hills-Lemoore on Oct. 23 and 26.  Since then they’ve been flawless.

Cougar Men Beat Fresno, are 3-Time CVC Champs
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
November 7, 2014

Taft College put an exclamation point on its dominance of the Central Valley Conference with a decisive 3-1 victory Friday over arch-rival Fresno City College.

The home victory clinched Taft’s three CVC crowns in a row and kept the Cougars undefeated heading into today’s game at once-beaten Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga.

“We accomplished our goal of winning the conference for the third time in a row,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona, whose team pushed its record to 17-0-2.  “It was gratifying to see the boys follow through with our game plan.  We just wanted to try to win conference.”

The Cougars have one conference game left Friday when they travel to Visalia to play College of the Sequoias, a team they beat 2-0 in Taft Oct. 24.  The Giants are winless in five conference outings.

Big one today
More important is today’s matchup with Chaffey, the best team in southern California.

The Panthers moved ahead of the Cougars in last week’s state sports information directors poll although the Cougars are No. 1 in the more important power rankings that determine spots in the playoffs.

Also, the Cougars are ranked No. 2 in the nation while the Panthers are No. 4.

“They have a lot of firepower,” Cutrona said.  “They have four or five great players.  Most teams have one or two.”

The Panthers lead the state in scoring with 72 goals while the Cougars rank third with 60.
“We have a lot of firepower too,” Cutrona said.  “We will have to try to exploit the weak points in their defense.”

Defense is key
“I like our defense,” Cutrona said.  “Our team defense is pretty good.  Everybody’s going to have to be sharp in the back.”

The Cougars have allowed just nine goals in 19 games, second best in the state behind Hartnell’s eight.  Chaffey has given up 26.

There are two common opponents.

TC beat Santa Barbara twice 4-1 and 3-1 while the offensive minded Panthers shut out the Vaqueros 6-0. 

San Bernardino Valley is another common opponent.
TC beat them 5-0 and Chaffey won 3-1 and tied 3-3.

“The difference needs to be in keeping them down to one goal or less,” Cutrona said.  “they keep three forwards up top the whole game so we’ll need to be careful.  Our defense needs to come up huge.”

Fresno game
Against Fresno the Cougars scored first in the 22nd minute when leading scorer Ramiro Barraza took a pass from Enrique Garcia and drove a header into the left corner of the net.

Nine minutes later the Rams tied it on a one-on-one with Cougar keeper JD Cisneros.

“I didn’t feel any discomfort when they tied it,” Cutrona said.  “I was perfectly content.”

Taft took the lead for good in the 43rd minute on a penalty kick by Ramon Chavez following a hard foul near the Ram goal.

Chavez’s kick was blocked by the Ram goalie but the ball spun around behind him and Chavez followed through by slamming it into the net.

Fresno had a good opportunity to tie it with a header but Cisneros made what Cutrona described as “a brilliant save.”

“I was very excited to see JD make that great save.  It was the game-winner in a sense.  A few minutes later we put the dagger in them.”

It came in the 74th minute when Daniel Ortiz took a pass from Oscar Torres and fired it off the left post and into the net.

Title on the Line When Cougar Men Host Fresno on Friday
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
November 3, 2014

It doesn’t get any easier for the Taft College men’s soccer team.

The undefeated Cougars (16-0-2) are ranked No. 2 in the nation and No. 1 in California heading into Friday’s home Central Valley Conference tussle with rival Fresno City College.

After that it’s a road test against once-beaten Chaffey College (13-1-2) in Rancho Cucamonga next Tuesday in a non-conference match-up between the state’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams.  Chaffey is ranked No. 6 in the nation.

“Right now the idea is to put all our effort into Friday,” said coach Angelo Cutrona.  “If we can pull off a victory I think we will clinch the conference championship.  It still comes down to us and Fresno at the end of the season.  It’s been that way for many years now.”

Besides the non-leaguer with Chaffey the Cougars close out the regular season with a CVC finale Nov. 14 in Visalia against College of the Sequoias.

“COS is no slouch either,” Cutrona said. 

The Cougars defeated the Giants 2-0 when they met here Oct. 24.

The Chaffey contest won’t carry as much pressure, Cutrona said, but is important in other respects.

“That one we’d like to have to stay unbeaten.  It also will carry great power points.  If we can take care of business against Fresno, then the last two will be less stressful.  We’re still going to play our style.”

State playoff seedings are based on power points and right now the Cougars are on top.

The Cougars improved to 3-0-1 in the conference last Friday with a 2-0 victory over visiting West Hills-Lemoore, the team they tied in the first round of CVC action.

TC scored both its goals in the first half.

After missing several good opportunities early on the Cougars found goal in the 34th minute when sophomore midfielder Edgar Rodriguez scored from in close off a crossing pass from the right side came to Ramiro Barraza, who sent it to Rodriguez just a few feet away.

Ramon Chavez got the second goal eight minutes later off a corner kick from Jesus Villalpando.  The kick came from the right side where Chavez headed it toward the goal. 

It eluded the goalkeeper and bounced into the top of the net.

After that the Cougars played solid defense but also created several additional scoring chances, keeping the Eagles on their heels the rest of the match.

Cougars Stay Perfect, Will Host Crucial Conference Matches
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 27, 2014

When the conference crown is on the line, it’s a good thing to be the host team.

That’s what is being dialed up for the undefeated Taft College men’s soccer team when the Cougars host their chief Central Valley Conference rivals – West Hills of Lemoore and Fresno – the next two Fridays.

“We’re ready,” said head coach Angelo Cutrona.  “We have four games left and every one is important.  We just need to maintain.  They have to come out and get us.”

After hosting West Hills and Fresno on successive Fridays, the Cougars have a non-conference date with Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga on Nov. 11 before closing out the regular season three days later with a CVC finale in Visalia against College of the Sequoias – a team they beat 2-0 here last Friday.

In the first round of conference play the Cougars (15-0-2) battled West Hills (12-2-2) to a scoreless standoff and a week later defeated Fresno (10-5-1) 2-1.

As of Monday the Cougars were ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the nation while West Hills came it at No. 4 and No. 6 respectively.  Fresno is ranked eighth in northern California (TC 1st and West Hills 3rd).

TC is 2-0-1 in the conference after blanking COS, their seventh win in a row.
It was the Oscar Torres and Edgar Rodriguez show.

Torres scored the first goal off an assist from Rodriguez to give the Cougars a 1-0 halftime lead, and in the second half they reversed roles with Rodriguez driving home the clincher off a pass from Torres.

For Torres it was his sixth goal and 11th assist.  He leads the state in assists.

Rodriguez got his seventh goal and seventh assist.

The Cougars have two win streaks sandwiched around their two ties – the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect record.

They started the season with eight wins in a row before tying four-time state champion Mt. San Antonio in Walnut and West Hills in Lemoore.  Both were scoreless standoffs.

Former Taft College Soccer Star Miguel Ibarra Has Had a Good Month
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 28, 2014

First he was called up to play for the U.S. National Team in friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras – taking a break from playing professional soccer for Minnesota United FC of the North American Soccer League.

That sparked a highlight video showcasing his talent that went viral, garnering nearly 25,000 views in one month.

“We always knew he had that kind of talent,” said Cougar coach Angelo Cutrona.  “But coming from a junior college he didn’t get the credit he deserved.  He’s such a great kid. 

We couldn’t be happier for him.

“To be called up to the national team is a tremendous accomplishment.  The talent was there.  He just needed an opportunity to show what he can do.”

Nicknamed Batman (the YouTube video is titled “Batman Can Fly”), Ibarra played at TC in 2008-9, earning All-Central Valley Conference honors that included conference MVP his sophomore season.

He transferred to UC Irvine, where he was the Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year and All-Big West.

From there, he was drafted in the second round of the Major League Soccer’s supplemental draft (27th overall) by the Portland Timbers but did not sign a contract.

In March of 2012 the 5-foot-7, 145-pound midfielder signed with Minnesota United FC of the newly-formed NASL and made his debut on April 8 against the Carolina Rail-Hawks. 

Ibarra was the first U.S. second division player to be called up by the national team since 2005.

He earned his first cap in the game against Honduras on Oct. 14, a memory he’ll cherish.

He’ll also remember getting his first look at his No. 9 jersey hanging in his locker and realizing it was next to the No. 10 of the legendary Landon Donavon – and that Donavon was standing there too.

They talked and Ibarra said Donovan, who played his last game in a U.S. national team jersey in the friendly against Ecuador, encouraged him to keep improving.

The game against Honduras was Ibarra’s first with the national team.

After his debut as a U.S. national team player, Ibarra returned to help his NASL team.  So far this season he has scored eight goals and added five assists (best on the team).

Minnesota is leading the 10-team league with a 10-3-4 record.

Ibarra was featured last week in an article on Top Drawer Soccer.com website.

“After nearly a decade of being overlooked for being too small or too far off the radar, both literally and figuratively,” wrote Will Parchman, “the 24-year-old Ibarra is finally planting his flag in the ground.”

Noting his numbers playing in Minnesota, Parchman observed: “Not bad for a kid who was criticized for his slight build for nearly his entire career.”

He came to Taft on advice of friends from his Lancaster high school days who played for the Cougars.  

Cougar Men's Soccer Still Winning Despite Missed Scoring Opportunities
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 17, 2014

Taft College’s men’s soccer team continues to struggle finishing scoring opportunities.

The good thing is the team continues to win despite missing chances to score.

It happened again Tuesday when the No. 10 nationally ranked Cougars defeated No. 20 Modesto Junior College 3-1 on the home field to keep TC the only undefeated team in the state.

They’ll try to keep it going today when they take on San Joaquin Delta College (8-4-4) on the University of Pacific campus in Stockton.

The Cougars are 12-0-2 and ranked No. 1 in the state on both the power rankings and the sports information directors’ poll.  They were ranked as high as fourth in the national coaches’ poll.

“We didn’t play particularly well,” head coach Angelo Cutrona said after the Modesto win.  “We still continue to create goal scoring opportunities.  We missed a ton of them.  It’s a combination of missing opportunities on offense and making silly mistakes on defense.”

That happened against Modesto. The Cougars had eight shots on goal.

Three found the net and five shots were rejected by Pirate goalkeeper Luis Garcia.  A defensive lapse led to Modesto’s lone goal in the 40th minute after the Cougars struck early for a 2-0 lead.

But the defensive play of the game came in the 52nd minute when Cougar keeper JD Cisneros blocked a shot with TC clinging to a 2-1 lead.

“That was huge,” Cutrona said.  “That’s what great goalies do.  A lot of the time they’re not very busy, but they need to be ready all the time.  It was very nice to watch him make that play.”

The sophomore from Ridgeview High in Bakersfield left his feet as he dove to his left and knocked the ball away with both fists.

The Cougars had a couple of chances but were either offside or misfired.

That changed in the 74th minute when Modesto was awarded a corner kick.

Ramon Chavez went high to head the ball out to midfielder Oscar Torres who took the ball quickly down the left sideline.

Just past midfield he shot a pass to Edgar Rodriguez who quickly got it to Ramiro Barraza to rifle into the left side of the net.

“That was a fantastic center attack,” Cutrona said.

Rodriguez scored the first goal in the fourth minute off a pass from Enrique Garcia.

Trevon Demison made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute when he scored after taking a pass from Rodriguez.

Stingy Defense Helps Cougar Men Stay Unbeaten
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
October 10, 2014

After his Taft College men’s soccer team finished off a 2-0 win over visiting Cosumnes River College on Friday, head coach Angelo Cutrona was a little disappointed.

“We always had possession of the ball, but our passing was not as good and we missed a ton of opportunities,” he said.  “So after the game I didn’t feel good.”

But after taking a gander at the video he had a change of heart.

“They essentially had only two shots,” Cutrona said, referring to CRC’s threat to the Cougar goal.  “One of them went out of bounds and (goalie) JD Cisneros easily blocked the other.  Other than that they got absolutely nothing.  Those numbers are phenomenal.”

He pointed to another statistic that has him smiling.

“In the last five games we’ve let in just one goal and that was on a penalty kick,” he said.
Oscar Torres scored the first Cougar goal on a free kick.

“He bent it up over the keeper.  The keeper got a hand on it but the shot went behind him,” Cutrona said.

The Cougars got a second goal to go up by two at the half when Ramiro Barraza scored.

After he won the ball near midfield there was a pass before Edgar Rodriguez controlled the ball and shot a pass Barraza ran to and put away.

While Cisneros was having an easy day in goal thanks to TC’s ball control, his counterpart, Juan Bonilla, was busy with nine saves.

The win keeps the No. 1 Cougars unbeaten at 11-0-2 going into this afternoon’s home action against Modesto Junior College.

It marks the third of four matchups with members of the Big-8 Conference.  The finale will be Friday in Stockton when the Cougars take on San Joaquin Delta.

After that, it’s four consecutive home games, beginning with San Bernardino Valley a week from today.

Congratulations to one of our former student athletes, Miguel Ibarra who has been called up to the US National Team.

Miguel Ibarra, former Taft College men’s soccer player from 2008-2009, transferred to UCI and is now playing professionally for Minnesota United FC. He was called up to the US national team and made the roster for the game vs Ecuador and Honduras.

Check out the link below:
Click Here

Cougars Battle No. 2 Mt. SAC to Scoreless Tie
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 24, 2014

WALNUT – They say a tie is like kissing your sister, but after the Taft College men’s soccer team battled the No. 2 team in the nation to a scoreless standoff here Tuesday night it felt more like a loss.

That was the analysis of Cougar head coach Angelo Cutrona, whose team went into that match ranked No. 6 in the nation.

“I thought we outplayed them,” he said.  “We had them on their heels most of the game.  We had some good shots on goal and felt we should have won.  But that’s what this game does to you.”

He said it was a classic matchup of two nationally ranked teams.

“Two teams played their tactical systems.  It was a good heads-up battle.  It had the feel of a good Division I game.  It’s what this competitive level is.  It was a great experience four our guys.”

Despite missing a chance to beat a team that won four state championships in a row from 2009-2012 before losing to upstart Hartnell in last year’s title match, Cutrona said the Cougars can use the experience as a building block.

“All that’s going to do is motivate our guys,” he said.  “We would like to play them again but that won’t happen unless we both make it to the Final Four.”

The last time the Cougars were in that elite group two seasons back it was Mt. SAC that spoiled a shot at the state crown with a 2-1 win.

While the Cougar offense was frustrated Tuesday night the defense kept the Mounties away.

“Our defenders did a great job of sliding and blocking,” Cutrona said.  “They got behind us just once but our defenders swept the ball off the goal line.  That was Mt. SAC’s only real scoring opportunity.”

Now the Cougars must get ready for what promises to be their toughest conference battle yet.

Usually it’s Taft vs. Fresno, but the four-team Central Valley Conference has better balance than at any time in the past decade.

TC opens at West Hills-Lemoore today in the third of five straight road games.

“We’ve played nine games (the Cougars are 8-0-1) and haven’t had a breather,” Cutrona said. 

And, they won’t get one to begin CVC action.

“Our conference is a lot stronger than the Big 8 crossovers,” he said.

Since the CVC has but four teams it plays four matches with the Big 8 Conference. 
TC will play Sacramento teams American River and Cosumnes River along with Modesto and San Joaquin Delta of Stockton.

Heading into CVC action the league looks like this:

Taft is 8-0-1, West Hills-Lemoore 7-1-1 and ranked No. 14 in the nation, Sequoias is 4-1-1 and Fresno surprisingly is 5-4-1, a rare mediocre start.

After opening at Lemoore the Cougars will head to Fresno Oct. 3 to play their archrival, then American River in Sacramento before getting back home for an Oct. 10 skirmish with Cosumnes River.

Cougar Men Hope to Keep it going Against Mt. SAC
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 19, 2014

Taft College faces another crucial test today against a top 10 nationally ranked team when the Cougar men travel to the site of this year’s state championships to take on perennial powerhouse Mt. San Antonio College.

The Cougars know the Mounties will be prepared.

“They have been off for two weeks and scouting us,” said Cougar coach Angelo Cutrona.  “All three of their coaches were at the Cerritos game (last Friday).”

The Cougars are No. 6 in the National Soccer Coaches of America poll and Mt. SAC No. 2.

“We know they have a veteran team,” Cutrona said.  “They currently have 12 academy players on their roster, and they have 12 sophomores.  And, they are really tough to beat on their home field, which will be the site of this year’s Final Four again.”

TC kept its unbeaten streak alive – the Cougars are 8-0 – Friday with a last-minute 2-1 win over No. 8 Cerritos College in Norwalk.

With the game tied in the 90th minute, the Cougars were awarded a corner kick.

Jesus Villalpando, a sophomore midfielder from Shafter High, aimed his kick into the pack of players in front of the Falcon goal.  In the scramble a Cerritos attempted to head the ball away but it instead sailed into the net past Falcon goalie Jaime Sanchez.

That good fortune in the waning moments was justified, Cutrona said, because his team controlled tempo and possession for most of the game.

“I thought that we definitely played better,” he said.  “We had more chances than they did but we had trouble finishing.”

Oscar Torres put the Cougars up 1-0 at 10:25 in when he rifled a direct kick past Sanchez.

“We had two clear opportunities to make it 3-0 in the first half but couldn’t finish,” Cutrona said.  “That inability to score when we had good chances kept them in the game.”

The Falcons came out strong in the second half and got a tying goal from Steve Martinez at 56:51.

“With a first half lead we sat back a little more to protect our lead,” Cutrona said.

Cerritos had a chance to take the lead with a penalty kick in the 77th minute but Lucas Da Silva’s low, line drive shot was blocked by Cougar keeper JD Cisneros, who also saved a rebound shot.  He finished with five saves.

“JD made an excellent PK save,” Cutrona said.  “We thought it was a bogus PK call to begin with.”

The Cougars regained their possession dominance after that scare.

“We kept applying pressure and got two or three chances in the last five minutes but we finally got that last goal on the corner kick.”

The Cougars outshot Cerritos 16-10.

TC Soccer Teams Continue Solid Play; Men Stay Unbeaten
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 17, 2014

Both Taft College soccer teams continue to perform well during the non-conference grind with the Cougar men the only unbeaten and untied team in the state with a 7-0 record.

The seventh notch in the win column came Wednesday at home with a 2-0 victory over Long Beach City College.

On the same day the Cougar women were on the road for an 8-0 whitewash of Cerro Coso College in Ridgecrest that improved TC to 4-1-1.

Today the women’s team hosts East Los Angeles at 1 p.m. while the men head south for a clash with potent Cerritos College.

Sophomore defender Ramon Chavez factored in both goals the Cougar men scored in easing past LBCC.

He scored the first goal, unassisted, in the 44th minute and got the assist when Ramiro Barraza, a sophomore forward from Bakersfield, scored in the 75th minute to ice a satisfying victory over a tough opponent.

For Chavez it was his fourth goal of the season and first assist.

Barraza earned his fifth goal, best on the team and sixth best in the state.

In the women’s team’s romp in the desert, the Cougars spread the wealth.

Leading scorer Celia Rangel turned in a stellar performance with two goals and three assists, Alexia Gonzalez had two goals and an assist, Valeria Garcia scored a goal and chipped in an assist, and Nora Perez and Cristina Salazar had the other goals.
Victoria Escobar, Ariel Manzano and Kathy Rubio contributed assists.

Gonzalez opened the scoring with a goal four minutes into the match but Cerro Coso’s Daisy Zajicek tied it with a goal in the 13th minute.  That was Cerro Coso’s only hurrah as the Cougars scored seven unanswered goals.

TC led 4-1 at the half.

Hannah Tovar and Arielle Stoyanow shared the goalkeeping duties, each playing a half.  Tovar gave up Cerro Coso’s only goal and had a save while Stoyanow recorded three saves.

TC Soccer Splits with SBCC
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 9, 2014

Taft College soccer teams split non-conference matches with visiting Santa Barbara City College on Tuesday.

The women opened the home doubleheader on a positive note by scoring the first goal, but the more physical Vaqueros put four unanswered shots into the net to spoil things for the home team.

The men, however, continued to be impressive in the early going by defeating for the second time their SBCC counterparts, this time by a 3-1 margin.  Taft won 4-1 at Santa Barbara on Aug. 29.

Cougar Soccer Teams Host Santa Barbara Tuesday
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
September 8, 2014

Both Taft College soccer teams hope to continue their solid non-conference play Tuesday when they roll out the carpet for their counterparts from Santa Barbara City College.

The women’s team (2-0-1) will christen things with a 1 p.m. kickoff on the Taft High soccer field at Tenth and San Emidio streets.  The men’s match will follow.

The Cougars tuned up for today’s doubleheader with matches last Friday.

The women scored a late goal to earn a 2-2 tie with Long Beach City College in the Cougars’ home opener while the men improved to 4-0 with a 2-1 win over Las Positas College in Livermore – a victory that avenged a penalty-kick loss that eliminated TC from last year’s playoffs.

Sophomore midfielder Celia Rangel scored both goals for the Cougar women – the first without an assist in the 38th minute and the second in the 50th minute with a pass from Nora Perez.

Rangel’s goals overcame a 2-0 first-half Long Beach lead.

Cougar goalkeeper Arielle Stoyanow had seven saves.

Long Beach had 9 shots on goal, the Cougars 8.

Men unbeaten
Sophomore midfielder Ramiro Barraza scored both goals in the win over Las Positas on assists from Trevon Demison and Edgar Rodriguez respectively.

Barraza’s goals gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead before Las Positas countered with a goal from Anthony Aguilar in the 38th minute, but there was no scoring the rest of the way.


Directions to Taft Union High School Soccer Field from Southern California:

  • Take I-5 North
  • Merge on I-5 North
  • Take the 166 exit towards Maricopa/Taft
  • Turn left on 166
  • Turn right on California Street (Hwy 33)
  • After about 6 miles, take the left to stay on hwy 33
  • Turn right on 10th Street (light)
  • Go about a block and a half and the field is on your left behind Albertson's

  • Link to College : Area Maps