The NPSL off-season is long and at times boring. We had to withdraw from the Riverside County Cup, due to our coach/ team manager having heart surgery (don’t worry he’s better now) and that has made it hard for us to try to find ways to keep ourselves occupied. Well we did some reflection, deep reflection, on the concept of local soccer. We reminded ourselves that the Inland Empire is a hotbed for soccer talent and that extends to our various local universities.
I know college soccer is weird and different like with rules like: unlimited subs, regular season games having sudden death overtime, only conference games matter in the season and teams sometimes play 2 games a week, similar English second tier. Many of our Coras have risen through the various Riverside County college systems and we believe that all Riverside local soccer matters.
Here are a couple of tables to reflect some of this season’s information. Keep in mind a team’s conference record doesn’t matter for this table.
Men’s unofficial best riverside college 2018
|Position||School||Wins||Ties||Loses||Traditional points||Playoffs?||Conference||Highest finish in conference?|
|3||La Sierra||8||0||10||24||No||CAL-PAC||6th place|
|4||UCR||6||2||9||20||Yes||Big West||BW Champions!
NCAA 1st round
|5||Norco||5||3||10||18||No||Orange Empire||7th place|
Men’s top goal scorer *
|Position||School||Name||Goals scored||Player number|
|3||La Sierra||Vasquez, Israel||10||#10|
Here is a short review on each of these colleges:
Cal State University San Bernardino
CSUSB is under the leadership of Darren Leslie since 2014. One word to describe their season is consistency. A total of nine clean sheets and most wins won by two or more goals. The Coyotes had the best regular season in the area and advanced to the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) playoffs, where they fell to Cal Poly Pomona 1-0 in the final game. The first half was all Cal Poly. They kept possession in their defensive half and didn’t allow the Coyotes to gain any ground. In the 61st minute Cal Poly scored the first goal. It came from a cross from the left-wing and the attacker Castillo headed it in from close range.
Cal Baptist University
Next is Cal Baptist who I believe had the best live stream coverage of all the local colleges. Coach Coe Michaelson and the Lancers had an up and down start to the season . The biggest highlight was having the top goal scorer in the team scoring two hat tricks in the first three matches. It wasn’t until they faced UC Riverside in the Riverside College Derby, where they lost 2-1 via a golden goal penalty . That loss sparked a four game losing streak for the Lancers, during which they only scored one goal. CBU attacker Preston Judd went on to be the top goal scorer in the NCAA with 15 goals in the season. Judd is a tall striker ( 6’3”) who is skillful with his feet and has the speed to find balls sent into the open channels. One of his best goals this season, he nut megged a poor San Jose State defender and hits a low strike on the keeper’s near post. His play style suits CBU’s direct and quick style of play.
La Sierra University
For La Sierra University, they play in NAIA ( The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) which is a different beast from the NCAA. Long time coach Jesse Olivas had a real roller coaster of a season, particularly with their various score lines. The team lost games by huge margins: 0-4, 1-4, 1-5 and the largest loss of 0-9. While the Golden Eagles had a few big losses, they also had a way with winning via big margins. Some games ended 5-0, 6-1, 6-0 and 8-1. They failed to advance to the playoffs, missing qualification by one spot.
Some context about Norco college, 3 of our Coras U-19 players are in the squad: Adrian Diaz, Edson Espinoza and Jamie Luna. Technically Norco college isn’t within Riverside city limits, but it is a part of the band of Riverside Community Colleges. This means RCC students who want to play collegiate soccer, play with Norco college. The team started out the season winning their first four out of five matches, then losing the remainder of their matches.
University of California Riverside
Finally, we get to the history making UCR highlanders. They field some of our first team players like Yosimar Hernandez (who had a 1-week tryout at Club America) and Dusan Keca. With Tim Cupello as head coach, the highlanders won the Big West championship for the first time in school history. Coming back in 2010 as an assistant coach, he went on to become interim head coach in 2013 when Junior Gonzalez went on to join the Chivas USA staff. In 2014 Cupello was named head coach. This season Tim Cupello focused on gaining results through their conference. They started the season with an eight game win-less streak and it wasn’t until they beat their crosstown rivals CBU that the Highlanders earned their first victory.
During the Big West playoffs UCR played hard, they were going to win and it wasn’t going to be pretty. They beat Cal State Fullerton after a 99th minute penalty to advance to the Big West Final. In the final vs UC Davis, the Highlanders kept possession and created chances through both wings, but it was snuffed out by the tall UCD keeper. The match would stay even at 0-0 for 90 minutes plus extra time. The Highlanders would go on to win in penalties 4-2. Daniel Castaneda would score the final penalty and the fans rushed the field, cheering for their side.
In their first ever D1 NCAA playoff game they faced a big challenge against Pacific University. The Highlanders couldn’t find a route to goal and eventually would lose 1-0.
The Coras believe that local soccer far extends past any national or regional league. It doesn’t need the title of “Pro” or “Amatuer” . Local soccer can be a high school game or even a college one. At the end of the day all you need is some friends, a ball and a field.