Playoffs a priority for men's soccer

In fall 2012, Santa Monica College fielded a men’s soccer team for the first time in over 20 years.

The team narrowly missed the playoffs, and head coach Tim Pierce believes it was still successful.

“For the first season, I think it went really well,” said Pierce. “We had a winning record and a great group. It was a good group to get SMC soccer going again.”

After finishing fifth in the Western State Conference last season with an overall record of 9-6-5, the Corsairs' main goal going into next season is breaking into the playoff pool.

“We have a great group of guys. Last year our biggest goal was to learn how to play with each other, this year our biggest goal is getting into the playoffs,” said returning goalkeeper Patrick Acosta.

One of the teams the Corsairs will definitely have to go through to win the conference title this season is the Oxnard Condors. Oxnard was last season's conference champion.

SMC managed to tie Oxnard during their regular season matchup.

“They’re circled on our calendar,” said Acosta.

In order to bolster the roster and compete with the elite teams in the conference, SMC will be looking to the incoming freshman and transfers to help the Corsairs get to the next level.

“We have a big crop of incoming freshman this year as well as a few transfers. Everybody’s kind of fighting for a spot, but when the season rolls around, we’ll know who the starting 11 are,” said Pierce.

Although the program finished with a winning record last season, they are currently looking for their next great goal scorer after one of last year’s standouts, Alessandro Canale, who recently transferred to the University of California San Diego.

One forward who might be able to fill those shoes is Rafael Silva.

Originally from Brazil, Silva started playing at six years old, but due to the lack of organized soccer in Brazil, he came to SMC to pursue his passion.

“I had a scholarship to play in Missouri, but I preferred to play for SMC,” said Silva. “Last year was a learning experience, this year we know how to play with each other and we need to prove ourselves.”

With such a big group of veteran players, most coaches would be focused on strategizing for the upcoming season, but wins and losses are not the only things that matter to this coaching staff.

“I think there’s a handful of guys that have a chance at playing at the next level, but whether or not they play ball, I want them to go on as student’s and pursue their degrees,” said Pierce.