Oct. 19–Now or never.
To many, that may not seem like an enviable situation to be in. CSU-Monterey Bay men’s soccer coach Artie Cairel wouldn’t have it any other way.
With four games to go, the Otters find themselves three measly points out of a guaranteed spot in the NCAA playoffs. At 4-4-2, CSUMB is in second place in the CCAA North Division, but trails Cal Poly-Pomona (5-4-2) by one game for the fourth and final playoff spot.
The top two division winners plus the next two best teams in either division will qualify for the postseason. Pomona is in third place in the CCAA South Division. Sonoma State (11-0) has already secured the North Division.
“That makes every game important here on out,” said Cairel. “But the schedule is somewhat laid out in our favor.”
Indeed, Pomona still has two remaining matches against CSU-Los Angeles and CSU-Dominguez Hills. Both teams are ahead of Pomona in the South Division, with Dominguez Hills leading CSULA by one game.
“If we tie Pomona, we go,” said Cairel. “We own the tiebreaker.”
The Otters earned that tie breaker courtesy of a 2-1 win over Pomona last Sunday. The victory was CSUMB’s second straight against CCAA opponents, and when added with three non-conference games, the Otters have now won four of their last five.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” said Cairel. “Tired, to be sure, but good.”
There won’t be any time for rest as CSUMB heads north for a critical game against Sonoma State today. The Seawolves have lost just twice all season long and are perfect in the CCAA. The two met earlier this season at CSUMB, with Sonoma State securing a 2-0 win.
But with little to play for, the Seawolves may be ripe for the taking, and Cairel promises that the Otters will pull out all the stops.
“We feel we can beat anybody,” said Cairel. “And, we’re playing well right now. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.”
Having struggled earlier in the season offensively, CSUMB has scored 12 goals in its last five games. Kyle Satow has thrived since being moved from the midfield to the backfield, scoring two goals with an assist in two games last week.
“It’s kind of ironic because he’s now in a defensive position,” said Cairel. “But it’s really opened up his scoring lanes, he’s getting more shots coming straight in at the goal.”
CSUMB has just one remaining home game. The Otters host San Francisco State Wednesday at 3 p.m.
The past is the past
CSUMB women’s volleyball coach Jody Garry didn’t mince words about her team’s performance last weekend.
“It was disappointing,” said Garry. “We had some great moments and overall, I’m pleased with the direction this team is headed. But it was still very disappointing.”
The Otters were swept at home by both Pomona and San Bernardino, dropping CSUMB to sixth place in the CCAA with a 5-6 record. While there is still an outside chance for a playoff spot, the Otters would likely have to run the table, a difficult feat given the level of competition within the CCAA.
More importantly for CSUMB, says Garry, is that the team puts this past weekend behind them and focuses on what’s ahead. And Garry believes her team has already done that.
“They’ve done a pretty good job of that this season,” said Garry. “The culture has been changed, and they realize that they have to bounce back. We had a great practice on Monday.”
Having played three matches last week, the Otters were rewarded with just one match this week — at Dominguez Hills on Friday. That should give CSUMB some extra rest as they try to complete what looks like a pretty difficult finish to the regular season.
Five of the seven remaining CCAA matches will be on the road.
The men’s golf team took fourth place at the Chico State Invitational this week. John Jackson finished tied for second, one stroke behind the leader. Jackson had rounds of 72-73-74–219. The team finishes the fall season at Sonoma State on Monday. … The women’s golf team also concludes their fall schedule at Sonoma State on Monday. … The women’s soccer team ended a two-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over non-conference Hawaii-Hilo.
Contact Ken Ottmar at email@example.com or 646-4457.
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