The Delta College men’s soccer team has high expectations for the 2019 season after winning the Big 8 Conference championship and ending with a record of 14-3-1 in 2018.
“The expectation is the same, as high as possible. We expect them to again make the playoffs and to challenge for a league championship,” said Mustangs Head Coach Joshua Bradley.
Last year the program won its first title since 1999, when the team competed in the Bay Valley Conference.
Defender Julio Torres Rivas said he thinks the Mustangs are capable of surpassing 2018 accomplishments.
“I see us going straight to finals, just like the girls. Top four, top two or maybe even first,” said Rivas, speaking of the team’s potential to compete for a state championship like the women’s team.“We connect really well, I’m surprised at the connection that we got. It’s a lot of people that haven’t played together, all of them are mainly freshmen.”
The Mustangs have a record of 6-1 after defeating Napa Valley at home 1-0 on Tuesday Sept. 17 and an away victory 2-0 against De Anza on Friday Sept. 20.
Bradley said he wants more concentration from the team during the most crucial moments of a game.
“Towards the end of the game we want to make sure that we can see a game out, mentally focus and not be in a panic type mode,” said Bradley.
In seven games during the preseason the team has scored 20 goals and secured five shutouts.
Eleven sophomores returned from last year, including midfielder Toby Penawebb who expects himself to assume a leadership role as one of the captains this season.
“As a leader I expect myself to be a role model for the team and someone they can come up to if they need help. I’m always going to be there for my team,” said Penawebb.
Penawebb and Martin Torres Jr. have both scored a team-best five goals through the first seven games.
Rivas, the second captain of the team, thinks the role of a captain doesn’t have to be limited to one or two players.
“I feel like everybody is a captain here. I just consider myself as someone who could help the team win. I feel like everyone has their own individual powers just like anybody has their own attitudes and personalities,” said Rivas.
With incoming freshmen each year, Bradley likes to give a sense of belonging to help integrate them to the team and cope with returning sophomores in order to form a competitive group of players.
“The chemistry is fine, we do a lot of team building throughout the summer so it helps build that team mentality. We like to consider ourselves a Delta family,” said Bradley, referring to the players as a group of comrades and more than just a team.
Now that the non-league portion of the season has come to a close the Mustangs are set to start the 2019 Big 8 Conference season at home this afternoon for a 1 p.m. game against Folsom Lake.