SAN MARCOS – A slew of yellow cards issued in the 2-1 loss to Bethesda Christian University signaled a glaring caution to the Cal State San Marcos men’s soccer program.
A combined 9 yellow cards were issued during the match that saw one of the largest crowds this season.
“A chippy game’s going to be a chippy game. That’s all a part of soccer. In the end…it’s all mental as well as physical,” said sophomore forward Warren Ashcroft. “You’ve got to be smart enough soccer-wise and have soccer-intelligence to realize how to play, not get involved in something.”
Still, head coach Ron Pulvers attributed the amount of penalties to laziness and a lack of focus on the Cougars’ part. “It was a competitive game,” Pulvers said. “I have to give (Bethesda) a lot of credit, that’s a good team and a team that really wants to win.”
Pulvers was critical of the way his team played in the second half and from a perceived lack of leadership from his players.
“Yeah, we have captains,” Ashford said. “We generally don’t have that person that is going to put the words into people’s heads and get them fired up,” he said. “We need to be back to the grinding team that we were last season.”
Ashford said the team didn’t lack motivation, but a lack of buy-in. “There just needs to be more of, ‘Hey, we’re all here, we all need to give 110 percent 90 minutes out of the game,’” he said.
Overall, Pulvers was pleased with the first half play; the Cougars took a 1-0 lead into the half on a Jake Kaiser goal from an assist by Alex Brunsell in the 40th minute.
“That was as close to a complete 45 minutes we’ve had all season and then 16 seconds into the (second) half we give the penalty away, and then we’re in a bad spot.”
“It’s just disappointing,” said Ashcroft after the loss. “We’ve got the talent on this team that could really, really go far…that’s a team that I felt we had in the bag and that we should’ve beaten; we just didn’t have a buy-in 100 percent from everyone. There wasn’t that intent, or will to really grind out and do what we needed to get done.”
Since the team’s rocky start to the season, going 0-3, the Cougars managed a 5-game winning streak to get their record to 6-5-1. “They’re good wins,” Pulvers said. “They’re grinding it out, they’re getting a taste of it, but…we’re going to have to revisit this team a little bit and talk a lot about where we’re at and what we want to do. And if these guys really want to make a playoff run, they’re going to have to be more disciplined and focused and tougher,” he said.
The Cougars will have the next two weeks off, but Pulvers said they’ll be practicing very hard.
“As far as preparing for the next two weeks we going to try and learn how to win; we’re going to learn how to close games out, try to play 1-0 soccer and be able to shut teams out. We’re just bleeding too many goals. And it’s just a lack of concentration and being lazy.”
Prior to the men’s match, the women’s team gave a weakened Bethesda Christian University women’s team a walloping, winning 11-0 to follow their first loss of the season Sept. 21 against Concordia University, Irvine.
“The women are playing to win every time, they have what it takes,” Pulvers added.