With fresh but promising new recruits to the 2012 men’s soccer program at CSU East Bay, there’s evidence of improvement as well as hope for success despite struggles early in the season.
The only wins for the Andy Cumbo – led Pioneers this season have been a 3-0 rout of Colorado Springs in late August and a 3-1 victory over San Francisco State which was the team’s first conference win.
The Pioneers (2-5-2, 1-4-2) are currently tied for 10th in the conference overall, and fourth in the north division.
Some of the struggles in the early going have come from the transfer and new athletes learning the fast-paced, technical style of play and difficulty the Pioneers play at the collegiate level.
According to Cumbo, the biggest impact to the losses is the lack of creating opportunities and executing plays to finish off the goal. However, Cumbo believes despite early losses, there’s hope for the 2012 Pioneers.
“We’re on the edge,” says coach Cumbo. “They don’t need me to hold their hand.”
Five of the teams games have either ended in a tie or loss, and the team either finished with a 0-0 tie or a single goal defeat.
Cumbo notes that while the new players are adjusting, they are however, hardworking, coachable and are ready to turn the corner and adjust to the team as a whole.
The fact that players are only allowed two weeks of organized practice to prepare for the preseason and regulation games has caused for early cohesion problems as the players have not had adequate time to get together as a team.
One notable acquisition who was expected to make an immediate impact is freshman Duke Driggs.
Driggs is a graduate of California High of San Ramon and was a first team All East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) midfielder.
Driggs’ teammates and coaches speak very highly of him as a player and a person and see him as a key part of the building process.
Team captain and midfielder, senior Florian Reppin, views him as a future team leader due to the character he has shown so far this season.
“He’s very coachable, [and is] adjusting well,” Reppin explained. “His scoring opportunities will come soon enough.”
So far, Driggs has played eight games with one, start accumulating 214 minutes of playing time, with no goals or assist.
Cumbo says, that Driggs has the ability to break up plays on the ground and in the air flawlessly, but needs to improve on his offense to capitalize on scoring opportunities because he puts himself in good position.
Coach Cumbo and his players agree that they are on the brink of creating that “spark” on offense needed to win games with the confidence, camaraderie, that team leaders and coaches have hammered into the inexperienced players.
Reppin stated that he is looking forward to seeing results in the combination plays Cumbo has been running in practice to help bring the team together as a more fluid unit.
“Our players have the ability. This is what we play for,” said Reppin.
The schedule has been tough for the Pioneers but they show no signs of despair.
With playing the bulk of their games on the road in some of the best team’s stadiums in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) conference, the team has shown some grit.
On the road against former national champion Sonoma State, the Pioneers fell 1-0 in their first meeting in September.
They are keeping their heads held high with the improvements they are making each and every game and are aiming to turn the season around.
“We’re on the edge of the breakthrough,” junior goalkeeper Bryce Bookmaker said. “We [just] need to get goals.”
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, October 4th, 2012 at 2:20 pm.