Despite the regular season being over and the next one months away, the Cal Poly Pomona men’s soccer team tightened up their laces for a friendly exhibition match against Ryutsu Keizai University, a private university in Japan.
In the first-ever international match for CPP, the Broncos came up just a bit short to the squad from Japan, losing 2-0. Despite the loss, head coach Yossi Raz was glad to be back on the pitch.
“It’s always exciting [to be back],” said Raz. “You can see the boys training is a bit different. You can see the vibe is different. It’s always fun to get back on the field and play.
“We are soccer players. Part of being a student-athlete is to play soccer.”
During the first half of the game, both teams tried to create some offensive rhythm and chances to score. Ryutsu showed a little bit more physicality, playing for loose balls and being unafraid to sacrifice their bodies. The Broncos had to adapt to this, keeping themselves in the game with good passes.
“We’ll take the lessons from today and apply it to next year in [California Collegiate Athletic Association play],” said Raz. “We’ll go and continue to do well.”
Junior forward Christian Gonzalez Diaz, this year’s CCAA Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, came up with many chances during the first half.
“We just got to practice,” said Gonzalez Diaz. “I had one myself. Normally, I would try to tuck it in one touch, but I decided to take another touch.
“You learn from it, go back to pitch and practice it.”
Ryutsu was the first and only team to score near the end of the first half, with two goals coming within five minutes of each other. The first goal came off a transition play that had the goal coming from the right side. The second goal came off a penalty shot just minutes later.
“They are an excellent team,” said Raz. “Very technically savvy team. We lost our focus within the last five minutes of the first half, and we paid for it with two goals against a quality opponent. They punched twice. That’s what good teams do.”
The second half of the game returned to the back and forth style, and the Broncos found some rhythm. Even though the Broncos were able to charge Ryutsu’s goalkeeper, the team couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
Coaches and players exchanged comments and handshakes after the game, knowing that they’re still working for the future.
Raz, who will be entering his third year as the team’s head coach come this fall, is hopeful that the Broncos can play more games like this.
“[We want to] keep bringing special team to our university and community,” said Raz. “We want to make this a special environment for everyone to enjoy.”
Gonzalez Diaz also hopes that these games can be indicators of where the team is at and how much more they have to improve.
“These games show what we need to work on,” said Gonzalez Diaz. “In a span of five minutes, they scored two goals. That’s the type of thing we need to stay focused, look at the tape and learn from it.”
The men’s soccer team will host a showcase on Saturday for any high school or junior college athlete for an $80 fee. The showcase will be held at the Activity Field, next to Kellogg Field.