Men's Club Soccer
By: Christian Portillo
November 5, 2016
MORAGA, CALIF. - The Saint Mary’s Men’s Club Soccer team defeated the UC Berkeley B team 2-1 to capture their second consecutive Fall NorCal League Championship. The stakes were high in this one because if Cal came away with a draw, they would have been named the champions. A definite win was needed for the Gaels to repeat in the tough NorCal league of the West Coast Soccer Association.
Saint Mary’s came prepared to play in the big game on their home turf. The Gaels played with their usual fast pace, calculated passing, and wide positioning. Nate Grixti was able to get two shots off as a result of the Gaels’ offensive attack, but both shots had too much lift on them.
With 23:10 remaining in the first half, Grixti received the ball on the left side of the box, eloquently dribbled, and delivered a strike to the top right corner to put the Gaels on the board, 1-0.
The rapid pace of the match was to Saint Mary’s favor, as they held possession and were in the offensive for most of the match.
With 8:40 remaining until halftime, Grixti received a nice pass in the middle and scored his second goal of the night to give Saint Mary’s a comfortable 2-0 lead.
The Gaels’ defense was solid throughout the match, limiting the Golden Bears to few offensive opportunities. However, Cal did take advantage of one opportunity seven minutes into the second half by scoring a good shot from the right side of the box. The Gaels’ stellar defense continued after this, though, by not letting Cal score ever again and keeping the score 2-1.
The 2-1 lead was maintained and solidified Saint Mary’s first place position in the standings, making them league champions for the second fall in a row. The Gaels finished the fall season with 4 wins, 0 losses, and 1 tie for a total of 13 points. Over the course of the season, they scored 13 goals and only gave up 6 goals.
UC Berkeley plays the University of Pacific for their last game of the season on Saturday, November 12, at 3:00 P.M., at Cal. Even if the Golden Bears win, they will have 12 points to the Gaels’ 13 points, meaning that no matter the end result they will be second place at best, leaving Saint Mary’s as the repeating champions!
SMC Campus Recreation was able to speak with Pepe Seger before Saturday’s match to talk about the big game, the benefits of being on SMC’s club soccer team, and more.
Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
On what has motivated the team to try to repeat this year…
The team is expected to win again this year. The main goal is to win the championship again. Basically, to try to win the championship. What has surprised me is what the coach asks of us- [Coach Lamont] wants us to start from the back, play fast, move the ball from side to side, and be a team who dominates and creates scoring opportunities.
On the benefits of being on the club soccer team…
It is not too competitive-it is more fun. The members of the team were really nice and even invited me to go out. Of course we want to win, Coach [Lamont] wants to win and puts the best players in the game, but he even gives minutes to those who aren't as good. Many of us are friends outside of the team as well.
On Coach Lamont’s coaching philosophy…
He wants us to start playing from the back, wants us to be wide open, [because] the more open we are, the more opportunities there are. We have really strong midfield players who can play both offense and defense and we want want to take advantage of this.
On what to look out for against Cal…
[Coach Lamont] wants a lot of movement between the top players. Cal has two really big defenders. We need to win. We have pressure to win the game because we are at home and need to take advantage of the home [field advantage] factor. They [Cal] need to draw to win the title and we need to win [this game] to win the title.
On accomplishing individual and team goals…
I have-I wanted to be a member of the team, to make new friends, and to have fun. I am really happy to be a part of the team, and want to play for the spring semester. We want to play well on Saturday [against Cal].
A message for fans heading into Saturday’s match…
Win or nothing! If people show up to the match, it gives us an advantage, which is really important for us. It is about winning-the club soccer team really wants to win-we expected this from the beginning. We have a strong squad with really good players. Nate Grixti is really motivated-he just posted something on the Facebook group. We usually get along well off the field too, and this leads to doing better on the field. Most of [the players] are seniors and have invited me to be a part of their family. It is their fourth year playing together, which makes it easier to play as a part of the group.