SAN MARCOS – The men’s soccer season began with a tough loss against Ashford University, losing 1-0 in the final minutes of the Cougars’ home opener Saturday. But it also showcased the debut of GK Chris Quaresma, a transfer from Cal State Fullerton.
Quaresma showed good leadership in keeping the team in the game and playing as a unit, which is just a part of his responsibilities as the team’s goalie. Quaresma made several blocked shots on goal before Ashford’s MF Craig Butcher of Liverpool, England scored the game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining in the match.
“We did really well…we had most of the chances, we were holding the team, and it’s just one of those things that, at the end, they ended up in the right place at the right time, but overall, I think our team did very well,” Quaresma said.
Head coach Ron Pulvers, going into his sixth season, knew that Ashford had an outstanding side, and to get a goal in the first half would have put the Cougars in great shape, he said.
“Getting nil-nil at half-time, we felt good about, and in the second half we had two extraordinary chances that we weren’t able to convert, which ended up fading us,” Pulvers said.
Pulvers stressed sustainability in the second half, a theme that they are working on for this season, adding that the team can lose focus and concentration in the last minutes of the halves.
“I felt like we wavered a little bit in the second half, but it’s the first game, and we’ve got a little bit of an issue giving goals away in the last few minutes of each half, and that certainly did us in.”
The Cougars have had a solid showing in their division the previous two years, making it to the A.I.I. Conference Championships both years. Last year, the team finished with a 12-4-2 record, advancing to the second round of championships before being eliminated by the country’s No. 2 ranked team Simon Fraser University.
“Our goals are to duplicate what we did last year…and what we want to do better this year is take it a step further and win the conference,” Pulvers said, adding that this was a tough way to being the season.
Pulvers said that the team’s defense was certainly their strength in the match.
“We’re a defend first team,” Pulvers said. “We understand that defending is what is ultimately going to win at the highest levels and we’re looking to play shut out soccer.”
Quaresma agreed, saying that the team did exactly what they practiced. “We played like a unit. We took the team out of their element, which was passing, and they were looking to hit long balls on us because they couldn’t get through us.”
The Cougars will resume practice Monday, working on shaping the team and getting players in the right starting positions, playing both sides of the ball and playing in transition, Pulvers explained. “All of the basic things that you want to get out to your team early in the season.”
Their next match is Aug. 30 at Biola.