Men’s soccer seizes its first home victory for the season


C.N. Williams

The Olympians kept the pressure high on the Coyotes, securing a Mesa win.

C.N. Williams, Staff Writer

After losing three home games in a row, San Diego Mesa College’s Men’s Soccer won their first home game for the fall semester, defeating the Cuyamaca College Coyotes 1-0 on Oct. 19.

The game started fiercely, the Coyotes taking possession first. The Olympians earned the first two yellow cards of the game as the minutes dragged on and frustration built on the field.

Olympian Goalkeeper Ty Aulman shouted to his team — “Tranquilo, tranquilo!” Coach Todd Bernard also shouted from the sidelines, urging his players to keep a cool head.

But the Olympians kept trying win the ball and break the Coyotes’ defense — several Olympians in quick succession slid for the ball, one after the other, struggling to maintain possession with each pass and save. “Stop sliding, boys!” Bernard shouted from the bench, and the Olympians returned to more strategic methods of attack.

Aulman blocked several of the Coyotes’ goal attempts, and both teams earned yellow card after yellow card from the referees as the players grew frustrated.

Finally, Midfielder Carlos Granados made the goal for Mesa about 25 minutes into the first period. The Olympian bench and Mesa’s side of the stands erupted in cheers.

C.N. Williams
The Olympians closing in on the Coyotes’ ball.

If the energy on the field had been high before, Mesa’s goal only turned up the heat. The Coyotes’ bench smelled of anxiety, players hunched forward as they watched. Their coach, Brian Hiett-Aleu, paced up and down the length of the bench and called out his team’s weaknesses as the Olympians exploited them.

When the Olympians attempted another goal, Mesa’s crowd collectively groaned as the ball skimmed just over the top of the net.

In the break between periods, Bernard addressed his team. “Keep doing what you’re doing,” he said, adding, “We deserve this win. It’s all about discipline.”

Across the field, the Coyotes’ coach had his team seated in front of him as he talked. “Let’s be clean, you guys,” he said, and sent his players back in.

For the second period, the Coyotes tightened their defense and repeatedly drove the Olympians toward their own goal. Even while corralled against their home net, the Olympians managed to slip through the Coyotes’ defense with strategic outs and quick intercepts, and kept shifting the game back to centerfield.

With about 20 minutes left on the clock, the Olympians began widening their tight formations and leaving gaps in their coverage of the field, losing the ball to Coyote intercepts. “You guys gotta connect your passes!” Aulman shouted from the penalty box.

The last 20 minutes of the game passed at a grind. The tiring teams fought harder, faster, and dirtier to maintain an edge. Refs pulled yellow cards on Coyote Forward Cameron Payne for tripping opponents twice within a span of several minutes, and Coach Bernard substituted player after player for his team’s yellow cards.

By the end of the game, Aulman had blocked at least three more of the Coyotes’ attempted goals. The Olympians protected their leading point for roughly an hour of the game and ultimately emerged victorious on their home turf.

“It was tough,” Granados said after the game. “We came in knowing they were gonna hit long balls.” Granados added that the team came prepared, running tight formations to keep the pressure on the Coyotes.

The Olympians’ plan was clear, even during pre-game warmups. While the Coyotes practiced powerful, long-distance passes, the Olympians worked in tight clusters to prepare for winning the ball at close quarters.

C.N. Williams
The boys posed for the camera after their game, celebrating their victory.

“The game was very emotional,” Granados said. “We’re very happy we got our first home win,” he added, “we deserved it. We worked really hard.”

According to Granados, the team might use the same strategy for future games. “It worked,” he said. “They hardly got any shots, and then we were hitting the counter the entire game, so that’s probably a strategy we’re going to stick with.”

Bernard said that the Friday game was his first game as head coach.