By ALEXANDRA WILDER & HECTOR AMEZQUITA
In the 2019 season, both Cal Poly Pomona soccer teams found success and finished strong in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) standings. For the upcoming 2020 season, both teams look to replicate their success.
With an overall record of 13-5-3 and a national ranking at No. 25, the women’s soccer team had one of its best seasons in years, finishing third in the CCAA. The men finished second in the CCAA with a record of 12-5-3 and secured the CCAA tournament championship. Both teams advanced to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament.
Last season, the men’s team welcomed first-year head coach Matt O’Sullivan. In his first year, his team won the CCAA tournament and made it to the NCAA tournament before falling in the semifinal match of the West Region Tournament.
O’Sullivan is graduating 11 seniors, including first-team All-American and Most Valuable Player Jimmie Villalobos, as well as All-Conference players Jason Ramos and Cyro Oliveira. O’Sullivan is hopeful to have a season in spite of these uncertain times during the coronavirus pandemic. He and his team are cautiously optimistic and preparing to have another successful season following the long winning tradition of CPP men’s soccer.
Despite losing 11 seniors, O’Sullivan is bringing in 16 new players, half of them being upperclassmen. He will also have key players coming back from last season, as well as injured players who will be recovered by the time the season starts back up.
“We lost a lot of starters, but we also have quite a lot coming back,” O’Sullivan said. “Eduardo Faria, Garret Jensen and Omer Green played almost every minute. Jordan Aldama is a big player for us. He’s our goalkeeper.”
O’Sullivan thinks his team is in a good position. He is excited about the new players coming in next season but believes the group in place right now is already strong.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them really develop themselves in the spring because we didn’t get a spring,” O’Sullivan said.
Spring or no spring, their goal remains the same: they want to win the CCAA conference and make a run in the NCAA tournament in the coming season.
“We have certain expectations, and the program has a strong history of going a long way in the NCAA tournament,” O’Sullivan said. “We didn’t go as far as we wanted last year, and I know the guys will be ready to take that challenge on again next year.”
After losing seven players, the women’s soccer team welcomed six new players, four of which are freshmen and two transfers. The Broncos’ head coach Jay Mason believes that his team’s success next season will be mainly because of the group’s experience and chemistry.
“We return three of our five All-Region selections as well as seven of our nine All-Conference selections, so I think the team now having the experience they have this year and building some confidence will benefit us to do great things next season,” Mason said. “I’m excited. We’re going to be experienced. We’re going to have 12 upperclassmen on the team so the leadership will be strong.”
With the team being unable to train together, team captain and senior defender Taylor Rasmussen believes that the biggest struggle next season will be to bring everyone back into the right mindset.
She is embracing her role as a leader and is focused on helping her teammates get through the hard times.
“Communication is key, so I think that if I can increase that aspect of my play and keep that going forward, I think that will lift everyone’s energy,” Rasmussen said. “Overall, if I can lead by example, it’s going to make everyone else want to do the same thing too.”
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