Men’s soccer: Cohesion was clear, but season opener ends in goalless draw

The Rio Hondo men’s soccer team opened its season with a goalless draw Monday against Clovis Community College at the Rio soccer field.

Both teams played their first game of the season and it was noticeable. Most of the game had the Rio Roadrunners possessing the ball in midfield. And the Clovis Crush corralled any pressure from getting in behind.

“There was a lot to work on. No satisfaction because there was a lot we could have fixed,” Joseph Fuentes said post-match, “But it’s the first game of the season so we have nothing to hang our head over. A 0-0 tie is better than a loss.”

The chance of the afternoon fell to freshman midfielder Miguel Hernandez when Tobias Garcia delivered a cross behind the defense. The midfielder trapped the ball inside the 18-yard box. Opened to his right foot with his second touch, and unleashed a shot from 9 yards that was saved by the Clovis goalkeeper.

Traveling four hours from Fresno, the Clovis Crush were happy to give the Roadrunners time on the ball. Defensively, the Crush stood tall at most Roadrunner advances which fell flat in the attacking third.

It’s no doubt the Roadrunners can pass the ball around the horn and that its speed on the edges can cause trouble. But time will be needed for the midfield to smoothly connect defense into offense through the middle.

Defensively for Rio, Maxwell Rodriguez, freshman center back, did well to maintain a high line and disallow offensive threat from the Crush forwards. It was a stable afternoon at the back for Rodriguez and his teammates. Their stresses were in creating a attack from the back rather than fighting off the opposition.

“We knew Rio Hondo was going to be a quality program,” Renato Bustamante, assistant coach of Clovis, said following his team’s hard-fought tie, “A good first test of the season and we’re thankful for that. We’re happy with taking one point back.”

Amongst the standouts for the Roadrunners, forward Garcia was dangerous the few times he managed to get on the ball during Clovis half. His strength paired with his vision saw him create a few chances late for his teammates. In midfield, Abel Machuca did well to conduct the game from a center midfield roll. His interceptions and steals added steel to the team while his passing from side to side was sharp.

The Roadrunners will need to improve from Monday’s game as a quick opportunity to bounce back presents itself on Tuesday. Irvine Valley College will be in town to face the Roadrunners at 6 p.m. Who will be happy to move on from the goalless tie.

When asked about the second match occuring the following day. Fuentes says his team is excited to turn it around.

“We know our potential and we know today wasn’t all of it so we’re excited to show it tomorrow,” Fuentes said.