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NVC men’s soccer team surges into first place in Bay Valley Conference

A week or so ago, Napa Valley College men’s soccer coach Rogelio Ochoa was talking about the importance of upcoming Bay Valley Conference matches on the schedule against Yuba College-Marysville and College of Marin-Kentfield.

He called the week of October 11-15 both difficult and critical for the Storm. Ochoa also pointed out that the week was “going to shape the rest of the season and the rest of the conference” season.

It was a big week, indeed, for Napa Valley, with the Storm picking up two wins and surging to the top of the Bay Valley standings.

Midfielder Emmanuel Duran’s second-half goal, coming in the 80th minute, lifted Napa Valley on Tuesday, October 12 to a 1-0 win over Yuba, which at the time was in first place. Duran connected from 25 yards out, with the shot finding the bottom left corner. Josiah Gutierrez, a left wing, was credited with the assist.

The Storm extended its win streak to five in a row, as it scored two early goals in the first half and beat Marin, 3-1, on Friday, October 15.

Diego Moya, a midfielder, scored Napa Valley’s first goal on a breakaway at the 10-minute mark, with the assist going to Yahir Escalona, a midfielder. The goal gave the Storm a 1-0 lead.

Two minutes later, the Storm scored again, this time Duran finding the net on an assist from Billy Biondi, a striker, as Napa Valley increased its lead to 2-0.

Napa Valley scored its third and final goal of the game with two minutes to go in the second half. The goal came from Christopher Hernandez, a midfielder, on an assist from Marco Manzo, a midfielder.

“To get two positive results, against Yuba on Tuesday and today against Marin, it’s just massive,” said Ochoa.

Napa Valley (5-8 overall, 5-1 Bay Valley) has now moved up in the standings, going from second to first place.

Yuba (7-6-1 overall, 4-1-1 Bay Valley) is in second place.

Marin (5-7-3 overall, 2-2-2 Bay Valley) and Contra Costa College-San Pablo (5-8-3 overall, 2-2-2 Bay Valley) are tied for third place.

Prior to the match against Marin, Ochoa expressed the need to be focused, disciplined and to stick to the game plan.

“The players understand the game plan. They understand that this is a 90-minute game,” he said.

“The most important game we have is the one in front of us, and right now it’s Marin. We want to make sure we stay extra focused.”

Napa Valley set the tone during its match against Marin early on, jumping out in front in the first half.

“We set the tempo early in the match. Players came out flying, literally all down the wings and just getting crosses in. We created four or five clear opportunities and put two of them in,” said Ochoa.

“The first 25 minutes we played some of our best soccer actually.”

Napa Valley lost its Bay Valley opener, falling to Marin, 3-1, on September 28.

“We played them once already, so we had a game plan and I think it showed the first 25 minutes,” said Ochoa. “We had a game plan and we performed it.”

It’s a much different Napa Valley team, as the Storm has regrouped after starting out the season by losing eight in a row.

The play of Jesus Tapia, the keeper, and the defense has been a key to the Storm’s success.

Tapia made 12 saves in the match against Marin.

“He had three phenomenal saves today, and that’s what we need from a goalkeeper – to be ready, be on his toes and be alert,” said Ochoa. “He not only does great defensively, but offensively he starts the attack as well, which spreads the field, and today it showed.

“In these type of big-time games, we need players like him to step up, and he did that for us today.”

During its win streak, the Storm has outscored its last five opponents, 14-3, and also has two shutouts.

NVC continues its season at home on Tuesday, October 19 with a nonconference match against Hartnell College-Salinas at 4 p.m.

Hartnell (10-1-1 overall, 3-1-1 Coast-South Conference) is in second place in its conference.

“It’s going to definitely be a good challenge, definitely a much more aggressive attack,” said Ochoa. “It’s going to definitely be a good test for our team. That’s why put them on our schedule. We want to play against the best, so we can test and see where we are and get better and develop. At the end of the day, we want these boys to see the best, so we can try to get to that point and to that level.”

CCCSIA poll

Eight Northern California teams are listed in the latest California Community College Sports Information Association poll, announced in a report by the California Community College Athletic Association at www.cccaasports.org on October 13.

Foothill-Los Altos Hills is No. 1, Hartnell-Salinas is No. 2, De Anza-Cupertino is No. 8 and Folsom Lake is No. 9.

Also listed is No. 12 Merced, No. 13 Butte-Oroville, No. 14 American River-Sacramento, and No. 16 Las Positas-Livermore.

* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019 after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame in September of 2019.

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