Photo Courtesy: Mark Guyton

Cougars Clawing for Playoff Berth

By: Mark Guyton

After a solid finish last year with a record of 11-6-1, the Cougars men’s soccer program is back to where it left off. The team holds an impressive 10-1 record after defeating Hagerstown Community College on October 16th. Led by head coach, John La Rocca, and assistant coaches, Joseph Pratt and Zachary Jacobsen, the team is in place for a postseason run.

The team has potential at every position with well-rounded players coming from all over the state of Maryland. Team chemistry allows for an ease in communication ultimately crisping up ball passes and opening up opportunities on both sides of the field. Coaching a team where each player takes on a leadership role makes La Rocca’s job easier for a better team.

“The players are bought in, they are tremendous young men, and they get better every practice, every game, so its a huge pleasure. It wasn’t always like this so credit to the previous teams that have gotten us to this point,” La Roca said. “They come to battle each other everyday and that’s why I think we’re having the success we are right now.”

With only two games left in the regular season, FCC must continue to maintain its pace and quality of play moving into the postseason. The Cougars must keep their foot on the gas pedal, study game film, and focus every training session leading up to Fridays big game.

“We’re incredibly tough on them and they hold themselves to a high standard already, so we just demand excellence and attack everyday at our weaknesses, moving forward each day,” La Roca said.

FCC is led by an aggressive offense made up of attack-men and midfielders that are highly efficient at moving the ball. The offense averages around eighteen shots and five and a half goals per game, netting fifty-four goals in total this season so far.

The defensive backs play a large part in the offenses success as they serve as the “gatekeepers” to the defensive side of the field. Once the opposing team gets a chance on offense, goalkeeper, Ismael Hernandez, works with defensive captain, Cherif Dicko, to keep the line tight and get the ball back to the offense as soon as possible.

Having an offense that can maintain possession of the ball for the majority of the game gives the defense time to rest and be ready for anything the opponent has to offer. With an offense as dominant as FCC’s, there are moments where the ball does not enter the defensive half of the field for minutes.

“I only contested two shots today, so yeah, it gets pretty boring in there,” Hernandez said.

Chemistry amongst the backline is another contributor to the team’s success on defense.

“They already know one has to cover, one has to defend, they do it as a team, Dicko said. “Ismael has a big part in it too because sometimes we get caught up and our line gets dropped and he tells us to push up.”

Coming up Friday, October 19th, the Cougars look to defeat the 4-12-1 Fighting Owls from Harford Community College in the Region XX Division I Tournament play-in game to secure a semi-final spot in the tournament.

Photo Courtesy: Mark Guyton

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