This season has been particularly troubled for the sports environment. Indoor sports have faced strict restrictions while outdoor sports timidly hinted at a brief restart.
Besides COVID restrictions, which limited the number of playable games, the COVID cases worsened the situation causing a few to be canceled.
It happened two weeks ago when the game between the Hawks and San Francisco City College was canceled due to a player who tested positive for COVID-19. Then, the LPC soccer team canceled the following game with Cabrillo Community College for the same reason.
But there is more to come.
April 15, 2021, was the last game of the semester for the Hawks men’s soccer team. The Hawks will play away at San Francisco City College, where no public viewing is allowed.
This game is not only the last chance to give a victory to the fans, but it also represents the temporary end of soccer at LPC, at least until next fall.
“Today is a little bittersweet because a couple of players are leaving. Playing together for the last time is a mix of emotions,“ commented Christian Neves, the Hawks’ outside midfielder in his first season, before the game.
The game starts uphill for the away team that suffered an early goal. The San Francisco City College’s forward finds a space between the Hawks defenders. The outside shot is good enough to beat the Hawks’ goalie, 1-0 for the home team.
The Hawks’ reaction is not long in coming. After a well-built offensive push, forward Dimitrios Vonich violently hits the ball that seems to be directed in the back of the net. The home team has to thank the goalie and his dexterity for saving the result and denying the Hawks of jubilation.
It is during the second half that the Hawks show their best, turning the game into a real cracker. When Adolfo Trujillo has the ball on his feet, it often reaches the center of the box where Samuel Kanghere, the target man, waits for the right chance to capitalize.
For a huge part of the second half, the Hawks rule the game with significant possession and excellent defensive closures. It is Josh McClanahan, Hawks’ defender, who saves the team during the second half after one of the rare home team’s offensive pushes.
The time is running and everybody tries to find the right space to get the anticipated equalizer. But when the referee whistles three times, regretful expressions characterize the players’ faces. The last game is over and the result is disappointing: 1-0 for San Francisco City College.
Victor Diaz, one of the Hawks forwards, shared his thoughts about the game. “It was a tough and intense game,” said Diaz, “As a team, we demonstrated a good athletic level even if the final result is disappointing.”
For the Hawks, this was the third loss in three games played. But this statistic is a little misleading. This short season didn’t allow enough time for the players to adapt to the new tactics, schemes, and modules. It’s possible the team just missed a good tactical preparation due to the extraordinary situation that affected the players both physically and mentally.
“We are a good team. Our soccer is getting better and it is good considering that due to COVID restrictions we barely practiced during this period,” explained Neves. “We are stacked for the fall and expect to be fighting for the state championship. This is the goal.”
It is a fact that this team demonstrated good qualities during the past weeks. There is also room for improvements through regular training and a little bit of luck that the players lacked during specific episodes.
As of today, it is still questionable if the overall community college sports environment will go back to normality next fall. But the obvious hope is to have fans back in attendance and to see a more full season, where the Hawks can have more opportunities to win.
Alessio Cavalca is a staff writer for The Express. Follow him @AlessioCavalca.