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The Las Positas College men’s soccer team was looking to win their fourth in five games as they matched up against Merritt College on Friday, Sept. 10. The Hawks struck first, 15 minutes in with a goal from midfielder Dominic Giusto. Twenty minutes later they added another two goals, courtesy of forwards Saul Gutierrez and Samuel Kanghere.

Freshmen goalkeepers Garrett Aslup and Miguel Cortez split time in net this game with Cortez starting. Cortez and the rest of LPC’s defense were only beaten once this game and it was in the first half. The Hawks controlled the rest of the game and kept Merritt’s offense at bay as nobody would score again for a final score of 3-1.

Tuesday, Sept. 14, LPC played against the College of Marin in the final of their five-game homestand. Marin entered with a record of 1-3-1 and lost their third straight match in Livermore, as they were unable to score against the Hawks.

LPC forward Jose Beccera scored the game winner for the Hawks in the first half and midfielder Tyler Martinez scored off a header within two minutes of beginning the second half. By the 52nd minute of the match, Marin goalkeeper Aly Alvarado was injured. It appeared to be foot or ankle related as he had a new limp and avoided putting pressure down. A medical trainer assisted him and he needed to be carted off the field. A few minutes later, Gutierrez added another goal for good measure, beating Marin’s new goalie, Christopher De Leon, low right side on a penalty shot. That marks his ninth goal of the season and 21 points in six games.

“With covid we had to train a lot. We have a super competitive training environment and he’s just developed so much and he’s having a great season right now, yeah super happy for him,” said coach Cumbo reflecting on Gutierrez’s season so far. He added, “but it’s all because he puts in the work and his teammates are putting in the work with him.”

Goalkeeper Garrett Aslup started and finished the match, making five saves along the way to get his first solo shutout of the season. The victory gave LPC a nice 5-1-0 overall record and marked a three game win streak.

The group was excited for their Thursday, Sept. 16 rematch against Merritt College and were confident in their abilities to beat them again, despite missing seven players due to injury and covid protocols. However that game wouldn’t come, as Merritt collectively made the health conscious decision to cancel and postpone the game because they weren’t comfortable enough to play against LPC.

“We had enough players to play, the other team wasn’t comfortable playing us. We had a little break so it kind of threw our momentum off,” said defenseman Shawn Chacko about having a week in between games. Coach Cumbo also spoke about the abruptness, “Yeah, the opposing team made the decision not to play, but we were ready to go. We were in the vans and then they called us,“ he said. The Hawks had no choice but to accept the extra day of rest and they didn’t let the postponed game ruin their momentum.

They carried their excitement over into the next week, playing their sixth home game in a row against Ohlone on Tuesday, Sept. 21. Forward Adolfo Trujillo, who was playing in his first game back from an injury, had seemingly scored the first goal of the game until it was called back for a handball. The Hawks managed to score two good standing goals not long after, as forward Owen Svantner scored his second and third goals of the season.

Owen Svantner was a handful today and did well scoring a brace and an assist. And Saul was productive again with two key assists. The group played well and learned a lot and showed their determination to improve,” coach Cumbo told LPC Athletics. Cumbo admitted that they needed to make some adjustments heading into the game, primarily inserting certain players back into the lineup. “I would say we had 2 or 3 people that were out for a few weeks, that we got back today that were on limited minutes. I think they performed well and helped contribute,” said defenseman Griffin Lafleur.

Midfielder Tyler Martinez added a third goal 43 minutes in to give the Hawks a commanding 3-0 lead heading into second. However, Ohlone didn’t want any part of that as they answered back not even a minute later, making it a 3-1 game before intermission. “After the first period it definitely got more serious. We were up 3-1 and we knew the game was definitely not over, still another 45 to play,” said Martinez.

Lafleur agreed about the intensity after the first half, “I feel like when the ball was on the ground, playing the right way, they knew they wouldn’t win. So they had to adjust and turn it in to like physical kickball for them to have a chance. Then we shut them out in the second half and scored, so we did our job.”

And that they did, as the final goal of the game came at the 51:30 mark of the second period, scored by forward Samuel Kanghere and assisted by Christopher Magagnini. Garrett Aslup saved five of the six shots he faced in the 4-1 victory.

The Hawks entered Friday, Sept. 24 with a four-game win streak as they hosted Merced. Merced struck first five minutes in, giving them a brief lead. Ten minutes into the match, Merced received a red card, allowing LPC forward Adolfo Trujillo to score his sixth of the season on a penalty kick. That ended the scoring for this game as LPC had its first draw of the season.

Merced’s goalkeepers bailed their defense out to prevent a loss, as LPC applied more pressure than they did with six shots. LPC split the time in net again with goalkeepers Aslup and Cortez. Merced only had one shot on net but it managed to beat Aslup. Coach Cumbo credited his defensemen for limiting the shots Merced took.

Griffin Lafleur, Shawn Chacko, Christopher Magagnini and Eduardo Topete worked very hard defensively,” said Cumbo, according to LPC Athletics. “Tyler Martinez provided a good spark for us while displaying his versatility.”

Las Positas entered Redwood City with a 6-1-1 record as they faced Cañada College Tuesday, Sept. 28, for their first conference ranked game of the season. Trujillo connected with Gutierrez for the first goal ten minutes into the game. Ten minutes later, Dominic Giusto gave LPC a 2-0 lead off a pass from fellow midfielder Simon Fuentes.

The game seemingly belonged to LPC after the first half, but a lack of discipline in the second saw the lead slip away. The Hawks received four yellow cards in the final 30 minutes of the match, two of which directly led to goals for Cañada at the 60th and 85th minute marks. With a final score of 2-2, the Hawks found themselves with their second draw in a row, leaving them hungry and frustrated.

“To get a draw at Cañada isn’t a bad thing, but the frustrating part of that one was that we thought we won that game and then they came back. It took me a little while to realise we actually didn’t lose. It felt like a loss after the game,” said LPC head coach Andy Cumbo. He added that closing out a win on the road is always tough in the Coast Conference.

The team would look to rebound against Hartnell on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at home. Hartnell’s men’s team ranked third in the nation for the United Soccer Coaches poll and first in the poll by the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA). Meanwhile the Las Positas men’s team was ranked 10th in the CCCSIA poll.

Hartnell would go on to score in the first 16 minutes and control the game throughout the first period. Hartnell wouldn’t score their second goal until the 61st minute, just a few minutes after their coach received a yellow card for his adamant yelling at players. LPC felt they were still in the game up until that second goal and their fate was sealed once Hartnell made it 3-0 in the 67th minute.

“On the first two goals, we lost our marks and we left a couple guys free and they won the ball fairly easily. Our goalie did make the save, but spilled it and there was another guy waiting there…So just marking up players better in the box, better awareness and more discipline could have helped us,” said Cumbo after the loss.

The Hawks showed some decent moments in the first half, but it seemed they were always sort of one step away from it. Defensive coverage was lacking in this one, just as the rest of the team didn’t provide enough offense to support their goalkeepers. LPC only managed to get two shots on goal. The group left the field visibly frustrated as they were now 0-1-2 in their last three.

LPC looked to turn things around the following Friday, Oct. 8, against Skyline. The Hawks opened up the scoring 30 minutes in with a goal from Griffin Lafleur for his first of the season, assisted by Trujillo. Skyline didn’t respond back until 10 minutes into the second half. Owen Svantner scored the game-winning goal in the 70th minute, assisted by Martinez and Trujillo. Goalkeepers Aslup and Cortez shared the net for the first win in four games.

Tuesday, Oct. 12, the Hawks were back on the road as they played at Foothill College. Foothill entered and exited the game undefeated as they blanked LPC 2-0. The Hawks offense produced five shots on goal but couldn’t break through. Miguel Cortez was the only LPC goalkeeper to play. Foothill College improved their overall record of 11-0-0 and 4-0-0 in conference games. LPC fell to 1-2-1 in conference games but remained 7-3-2 on the season.

The Hawks played Ohlone for the second time this season on Friday, Oct. 15. They weren’t content with losing 2-0 the previous game, so they shutout Ohlone 2-0. Garrett Aslup was the only LPC goalkeeper to play and earned his second solo shutout. Simon Fuentes and Adolfo Trujillo scored the only goals of the match and Trujillo also assisted on the Fuentes goal.

The following Monday, The Hawks played their final non-conference ranked match against Merritt, which was the rescheduled date for the game that was supposed to be played on Sep. 16. The Hawks scored five times in the first period, including a hat trick from Saul Gutierrez and goals from Griffin Lafleur and forward Basel Abumailish. Abumailish got his first goal of the season, as well as his first assist on a Tyler Martinez goal in the 65th minute of the second half. Goalkeeper Miguel Cortez limited Merritt to one goal and earned the victory for LPC. LPC would use momentum gained from winning two games in a row to fuel their efforts against Chabot the next day.

On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the LPC Hawks hosted campus sister and conference rival, the Chabot Gladiators. The previous meeting didn’t end well for Chabot as they lost 12-0 in the season opener. Things didn’t go well for them again as the Hawks put on another clinic, beating them 11-1. There were 12 different players involved in the scoring for LPC, as they scored six goals in the first half and five in the second.

Defenseman Eduardo Topete and midfielder Trevor Elder both scored their first goals of the season. Owen Svantner and Saul Gutierrez both had 4 point games, with Svantner getting his first hat-trick. Simon Fuentes earned a goal and an assist, taking him to 12 points on the season. Adolfo Trujillo also scored a goal and two assists. Trujillo has consistently been a threat this season, scoring eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points in 15 games. Gutierrez has also been deadly to say the least, scoring 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points in 15 games.

The Hawks finally find themselves on a three game win streak and improve both their overall record to 10-3-2 and conference record to 3-2-1. The Hawks are 7-3-2 at home and 3-1-1 at away games, as they prepare for a three game road-trip against Evergreen Valley, De Anza and West Valley. They play Evergreen Valley College at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22.

Taylour Sparkman is a writer for The Express. Follow him @T_Sparkman_330

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