by Matt Henry
Taft Midway Driller
The last time the Taft College men's soccer team last left the field, it was in a heartbreaking playoff loss. A majority of players will look to avenge that moment this season as they kick off a new season today against Allan Hancock College.
"We're good," said Taft College coach Angelo Cutrona. "We have a large returning class. We have some players with experience and know how that can lead the team."
All totaled there are 20 players on the team this season with 12 or 13 of the being sophomores.
Last year Taft College went 13-6-2 overall and 4-2 in the Central Valley Conference. The Cougars opened the playoffs Feather River College in first round of the No Call Regionals.
"It left a sour taste in our mouths," said Cutrona.
Despite the success, there were some things that tripped up the Cougars according to Cutrona.
"There were a few too many obstacles," he said. "Those little things caught up to us last year. We're more prepared, more experienced."
One of the goals this season is to get off to a good start.
While majority if the players are sophomores, Cutrona likes how the freshman and sophomores are blending together.
"I like our team chemistry, seems like a great group of guys," he said.
As a result of the experience, there is a larger expectation this year especially in a program that has been to the Final Four five out of the last ten years.
"We expect more from them this year," said Cutrona. "It's just getting our feet wet."
Even though the Cougars have a veteran team, there are some things Cutrona is concerned about going into this season.
"Not knowing what to expect," he said. "Now they just have to get game match experience. How they respond to the physicality and adversity within the matches."
The Cougars will have an addition to their conference this year in Cerro Coso from Ridgecrest.
"I think our conference is getting more difficult," said Cutrona. "I think we'll be even more competitive than we've been."
However, Cutrona expects a battle between Fresno, West Hills, and Taft College.
"You expect the three of us will butt heads and challenge for first place," he said.
Game time for the Cougars opening match today is 4 p.m.