The Rancho Cotate Cougars finally broke their eight game losing streak last Wed., March 27 with a 7-5 win over the Windsor Jaguars in a league game held at Windsor High School.
The Cougars have struggled this year thanks to a low recruitment turnout that forced Rancho Cotate to merge its junior varsity and varsity teams together. Many of the team’s starters are freshmen or sophomores, and because of the way the league works, that means they have to face off against the varsity teams of other schools. Those extra few years can mean a lot. Going up against older and more experienced opponents can be a great teaching tool, but it can also become demoralizing.
That’s why the Cougars’ win over the Jaguars was so important. It broke the streak and showed that the Cougars’ young team possessed the seeds of greatness.
“They were fired up about it,” Cougar coach, Tory Hotaling, said. “We took it a quarter a time. At halftime we were tied so we told them to go out and win the third quarter, and then we did the same in the fourth. We just held on and made sure we got the win.”
Penalties and discipline were the two largest hurdles to overcome for the Cougars in their match against the Jaguars, according to Hotaling. And the stats support his claim. The Cougars suffered nine total fouls throughout the course of the game, which left them at least one player short for ten minutes of play. When combined with the Jaguars’ late game rally in the fourth quarter, the Cougars fell behind, and the game looked to tilt towards another loss.
But the Cougar defense stepped up thanks in no small part to their goalkeeper, Raymond Nixon. There was actually a question over whether Nixon would be capable to play. In the team’s warm up he injured his finger and Hotaling feared a possible break. But luckily for the Cougars it was only a sprain. Nixon pulled on his gloves and went on to stop 17 of the Jaguars’ shots on goal.
“I nominated [Raymond] for player of the week. He was injured in our warmups, but he managed to get his glove on and get onto the field. It was outstanding,” Hotaling said.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they had to follow up their win over the Jaguars with a match against the Casa Grande Gauchos Fri., March 29. The Gauchos are first in their division and currently undefeated for the season. Currently they are ranked 35th in the nation. The Gauchos crushed the Cougars 19-2.
It was thanks to the twin efforts of Cougars Kieran Keaney and Michael Garrison that the team even managed to get on the board. Both managed a goal, but with only ten shots taken by the Cougars throughout the entire course of the game, most of the burden weighed on the Cougars’ defense.
Freshman goalkeeper Alex Prado stepped up and managed to stop 11 shots on goal—yet even that was paltry in the face of the Gauchos’ offensive blitzkrieg.
“I know that we have a rather senior group and they’ve got a younger group, so working off that metric I kind of thought it would go this way,” Gauchos’ coach, Benjamin Hewitt, said. “Because they had some young guys we also got to play our younger guys. It made for a better competition.”
Next for Rancho Cotate is a rematch against their old rivals over at Cardinal Newman. Last time the Cardinals beat the Cougars 7-4. The game will take place Wed., April 10 at Cardinal Newman High School.