At the beginning of the season, newly appointed coach Jason Spain vowed a playoff appearance for his men’s soccer squad, and his team came through at the end of the season.
The 2001Yuba College men’s soccer team wrapped up a miraculous turn-around season with a closely contested 2-0 first round playoff loss to American River earlier this month.
The 49ers finished 10-7-5, compiling a record over .500 for the first time since the program’s induction in 1998. Last season the squad mustered a mere 2-18-2 effort, spurning the call for a new coach, enter Jason Spain. As a reward for their efforts, the team earned a playoff berth in 2001, also a team first.
Yuba was seeded 13th in the region, and thier first round opponent was the fourth place American River squad (16-3-2), who, in two previous regular season meetings this year, beat Yuba 6-0, and 1-0.
The 49ers faced adversity even before the match began – they would have to go into play without leading scorer Indy Joal, who had previously injured his knee and was unable to play. Without thier top gunner, Yuba turned on the defense and kept the game close, giving up only one goal despite being outshot 10-1 in the first half.
The second half was closely contested as well, despite a penalty-shot that was awarded to AR in the first six minutes because of a hand-ball infraction in the box, and the Beavers scored the final goal of the game on the ensuing shot.
Feeling the pressure from a 2-0 defecit, the 49ers turned up the offensive push, garnering a few corner opportunities, only to be stifled by AR’s goalkeeper Shaun Van Bebber on each.
Yuba’s final quality scoring opportunity came when Art Acosta had a prime shot on goal despite being surrounded by opposing defenders. Again, AR’s netminder was up for the task, maintaining his bid for the playoff shutout.
Yuba goaltenders Kealii Kealue finished the game with six saves, and Mike Nelson finished with one.
Coach Spain has already voiced interest in filling the dual coaching role for both of Yuba’s Soccer programs next season, in hopes to build on a successful first season with the men’s club.