Following a successful 2015 campaign that featured a trip to the NWAC playoffs, the Columbia Basin College men’s soccer team is off to a fast start in 2016 under first-year Hawks coach Brian Gochoel.
With another deep roster that features a lot of young talent, CBC (3-1-2 overall, 1-1-1 NWAC East) again seems poised to finish near the top of the NWAC East.
“I think we have a lot of potential, especially offensively, with all the guys that we have,” said Juan Licea, a freshman out of Eisenhower High School.
Through CBC’s first six games of the season, seven players have scored goals, and the team’s top two scorers — freshman forwards Jesus Delgado (five goals) and Licea (three) — have recorded hat tricks. Gochoel credited the team’s early offensive production to unselfish play.
“If you were to take a look at our game film, we create some pretty goals,” Gochoel said. “At the end of the day, they all count the same, but when you’re creating your own opportunities, that’s going to bode well for when you’re facing some of the better teams in the NWAC in the playoffs.”
CBC is outscoring opponents 15-6 this season and sits in third place in the NWAC East behind Walla Walla Community College and Spokane.
Come out to play
Speaking of Walla Walla, the Warriors (5-1-1, 2-1-0) represent the next test on the schedule for the Hawks, who will go on the road Wednesday for the divisional game.
Licea said he and the rest of the team looked forward to facing the division-leading Warriors in a match that could give CBC a share of the NWAC East lead — pending the result of Spokane’s contest against North Idaho College on Wednesday.
“I think we’re all excited,” Licea said. “Everybody’s kind of anxious for that game.”
Walla Walla was on a five-game winning streak before losing 5-0 to Spokane on Saturday to create a tie atop the division.
The Hawks beat Spokane 3-1 last Wednesday, and they will meet again next week.
New face of the program
After moving to the Tri-Cities from Florida, Gochoel has become one of the area’s premier soccer coaches over the past half decade.
Gochoel began coaching the Kennewick High School boys team in 2010, and he made three consecutive state playoff appearances with the Lions from 2012-14. He was then slotted to head up the men’s soccer team at Washington State University Tri-Cities, but when the program’s funding dried up, he instead accepted the head coaching position at Southridge High School, where he expects to continue coaching in the spring.
“It’s a special thing any time one of your high school players goes on and plays at the next level,” said Gochoel, who coached current CBC players Angel Garcia, Jesus Garcia, Brian Flores and Alessandro Llamas at Kennewick, and Alan Pena at Southridge. “To have an opportunity to coach them again is pretty cool.”
In addition to winning a lot of games and making the playoffs every year — which Gochoel said should be reasonable given the abundance of soccer talent in the area — the CBC coach said he hopes to land as many of his players as possible on varsity teams at four-year universities.
“That’s really my goal for the program is to create a launching pad to a four-year university,” Goechel said. “To give them a leg up on a freshman that may not have the completeness of what a player needs to be successful at a four-year school.”
Delgado was named the NWAC Men’s Soccer Player of the Week after his hat trick last Wednesday against Spokane. ... Sophomore Max Herrera has gotten the lion’s share of minutes in goal for the Hawks, and he has responded by allowing just two goals while stopping 28 shots. Herrera and freshman Osvaldo Alba have combined to post a goals against average of 1 through the team’s first six games. ... Forward/midfielder Esteban Ojeda is the Hawks’ top returning scorer, with seven goals and three assists in 2015. He has chipped in two goals this season. ... The Hawks’ 2015 season ended with a 2-1 loss to Chemeketa Community College in the first round of the NWAC playoffs. CBC went 8-10-1 overall with a 7-8 record against NWAC East foes.