Benefield: SRJC men's surprise playoff exit will serve as fuel for soccer program
This story was updated Dec. 5.
By Marty Kinahan’s reckoning, he should have been coordinating practices this week. The Santa Rosa Junior College men’s soccer coach should have been scouting southern California teams. He should have been making team travel plans.
What he should not have been doing is making split pea soup.
“Split pea soup is my cathartic recovery,” he said. “It’s comfort food.”
After his Bear Cubs were ousted in the third round of the California Community College Athletic Association NorCal Regional tournament Saturday, Kinahan suddenly has time on his hands, time he didn’t think he’d have. To be fair, I thought he’d be busy this week, too. I didn’t see this soup on the menu.
The Bear Cubs earned the No. 1 seed in the NorCal Regional playoffs by putting up a 16-1-2 record en route to the Big 8 Conference title. The top seed earned them the right to host all three regional playoff games.
But in cold, rainy weather Saturday, the No. 4 seed Foothill Owls walked away with a 2-1 win to end the Bear Cubs’ season and send Kinahan into the kitchen.
“We didn’t have our best game in the biggest game,” he said.
What was said after the game?
“I said I was sad. This was a journey, this was meant to go on,” he said. “It wasn’t lack of effort or because we didn’t want to go on. We just went sideways.”
Maybe the Bear Cubs went the way of the rain. Conditions were not optimal. It rained throughout the contest, it was cold and the wind was gusty at times. And the Bear Cubs just never looked comfortable.
Coming into the contest, the Bear Cubs were averaging a phenomenal 3.4 goals per game while allowing a stingy .71 per contest. And they shared the load — players up and down the roster had netted goals all season long.
Sophomore Rigo Barragan, who prepped at Windsor High, had 13 goals and 10 assists, while freshmen Alan Soto, who played for Montgomery, and Adrian Fontanelli, who prepped at Rancho Cotate, had 12 goals apiece and nine and eight assists, respectively. Freshman Alan Sanchez, who graduated from Ridgway High School, had 10 goals and 12 assists on the season.
The team could score in bunches.
Case in point: When they fell behind 3-0 to Modesto in a road game in early November, Kinahan insists he didn’t question his team’s ability to climb back into it. That goals-per-game average can keep the panic at bay.
Sure enough, the Bear Cubs scored in the 55th minute to make it 3-1, then again three minutes later to make it 3-2, and again in the 76th minute to tie it. A goal in the 83rd made it 4-3 Bear Cubs and cemented this team’s reputation for never being out of a contest.
That ability to score, and score late in a game, can inject a massive amount of unspoken confidence in a team.
So when the Owls went up 1-0 in the 16th minute Saturday, I don’t think anyone blinked. And when they scored again early in the second half to make it 2-0, the contest still didn’t seem out of reach. This is a Bear Cubs team that scored four goals in one half against Modesto on the road.