After a tremendous first season as head coach, Henry Cabral would like to bring his Pasadena City College men's soccer team back to the postseason again in 2017. The Lancers will have to advance without many of last year's group, a team that reached the third round of the SoCal Regionals and took second place in the powerful South Coast Conference North Division.
PCC has just five returning players, but key performers including top goal scorer Yader Rodriguez (eight goals, 17 points) and All-SCC First Team midfielder Joshua Arevalo. Talented midfielder Pablo Buenrostro, speedy defender Satchel Robinson (two assists) and stalwart defender Alexander Hernandez (four assists) also return from last year's No. 7 regional seed. Cabral named Arevalo and Buenrostro as team captains.
Cabral is relying on a large group of freshmen newcomers to pick up the slack including goalie Andrew Espinoza (El Monte High), center back defenders Sasson Lessagholian (from Iran) and Christopher Munoz (Marshall Fundamental), left back Bryce Watson (Arcadia HS), center midfielder Marlon Flores (Hart High) and forwards Anthony Jimenez (Cathedral HS) and Kevin Deagueros (Belmont High). Rookie midfielder Roman Sislian was a 2017 All-CIF Division 4 selection out of Hoover High (Glendale) and midfielder Bryant Sanchez (South El Monte High) was a member of the 2016 San Gabriel Valley Tribune All-Area First Team.
"We have a lot work to do in order to match the success we had last year," Cabral said. "We have the talent, but experience is also a key at this level. We are carrying 20 freshmen on the roster and that means our coaches have to push them to develop faster. I'm confident that we can be successful if we can get this group to buy in to our team-first philosophy. We simply have to have kids on the same page. Of the sophomores, Yader is a talented offensive player and Joshua is a leader in the middle of the field."
On Friday, PCC opened the 2017 season with a frustrating 2-2 tie at Southwestern College. The Lancers thought it would come away with a 2-1 win when Buenrostro tapped in a rebound off an initial hard shot by Arevalo a minute into stoppage time. Instead right before the end of extra time (90-minute game time is controlled by the referee), Southwestern sent a hail mary drive that bounced off PCC defender Joey Knowles' head for an own goal, resulting in the deadlock.
In the 70th minute, Buenrostro slipped a pass to Rodriguez, who ripped a shot into the upper corner for a Lancers goal that tied it 1-1.
PCC will play its first seven games of the season on the road, including its SCC North opener on Friday, Sept. 29 at Chaffey. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Lancers next play at Antelope Valley College in a 5 p.m. game. PCC's first match at Robinson Stadium is Tuesday, Oct. 3 against East Los Angeles (2 p.m.).