After overcoming injuries and the loss of players to other schools and failing grades, the Yuba College men’s soccer team showed their poise and battled their way to a playoff berth. The 49ers (13-8-2) overcame the loss of three goalies, Kealii Kealue, Mike Nelson and Dustin Biso with great defensive play from Eric Evans, Jayson Shaw, Patrick Silva and goalie Justin Berbena. Berbena had 1.37 goals-against average during the 2002 season.
“Justin stepped it up,” said Jayson Shaw. “He came through after we lost Dustin, and played great through the run to the playoffs.”
Berbena showed off his talents in the October 25 game against American River, which ended in a 1-1 tie. Berbena held on after key injuries to Sean Nelson and Oliver Armstrong.
A major key to the 49ers great defensive play was a new strategy created by head coach Jason Spain called, “90 minutes of hell.” The strategy is to press hard and pressure the opponent’s defense hard all game to the point of exhaustion not giving them a chance to breathe. The first “victim” of the new strategy was San Joaquin Delta College, which the 49ers embarrassed with a 7-0 victory. Indy Johal, Sean Nelson, Ernie Harris and Jon Lam contributed goals.
The 49ers offense was led by Johal who had eighteen goals and nine assists and Harris who had with five goals and nine assist.
“We can go as far as we want in the playoffs,” said Sean Nelson. “If we all do our part, I think we’ll be tough to beat. I feel sorry for whoever we play, because we won’t let up and or lie down.”
The playoffs will in no means be a walk in a park, with teams such as Santa Rosa, American River, City College of San Francisco and De Anza of Cupertino California expected to be there.
The 49ers finished out their season with a loss against Santa Rosa and a victory over Marin of Kentfield. The 49ers unfortunately lost against Cañada in the first round of the playoffs 3-0. The 49ers were handed two red cards that they unfortunately could not overcome in the end.”He (the ref) didn’t even hesitate to pull a red card,” said Jayson Shaw, who received a red card for a sliding tackle.
Sean Nelson, Patrick Silva and Oliver Armstrong, who were playing ill, all played an incredible game. Berbena finished the game with 21 saves.Even though the 49ers were ousted in the first round, they played far beyond expectations.