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May 17, 2022

MEN’S SOCCER: Rams seek improvement in fourth year of program

Little by little, Albert Marques said. It gets a little better
every year. The Gavilan College men’s soccer coach is now in his
fourth season at the helm for the Rams, and is trying to build a
program from scratch after not having a program at all
GILROY — Little by little, Albert Marques said. It gets a little better every year.

The Gavilan College men’s soccer coach is now in his fourth season at the helm for the Rams, and is trying to build a program from scratch after not having a program at all.

Up until the 2007 season, Gavilan had been without a men’s soccer team since 1989. But slow and steady improvement the last few seasons has seen the Rams increase their win total each year, little by little.

“It’s a little bit difficult. But the good thing is that being near Hollister, Gilroy and Morgan Hill, we’re a small community,” said Marques, who had previously coached Gilroy High from 1999 to 2003. “People are pretty informed as to what is happening with Gavilan soccer.

“This year, we’re off to a little bit better start and we’re starting to come together as a team.”

From two wins in 2007 to four wins in 2008, the Rams enjoyed their best season last year since returning to the pitch, although improvement isn’t as evident while glancing at the team’s win-loss column.

Gavilan compiled a 4-13-3 overall record a year ago, but went 3-9-2 in the Coast Conference Central Division — marked improvement considering the Rams had just one conference win combined in 2007 and 2008.

Of course, win-loss records from previous seasons mean little at the junior college level. Teams ahead one year can be just as easily down the next, and vice versa. The Rams, for instance, are 2-3-1 on the early season, but were 1-5-1 a year ago.

Marques is hoping his team’s offense and defense will provide enough of both to propel the Rams forward this season. Controlling the middle of the field while maintaining possession, however, remain on Gavilan’s need-to-improve list.

“It’s a big issue for us,” Marques said of the midfield play, which struggled in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss against Monterey Peninsula College. “We’re putting players in different positions, looking for the right chemistry.”

The right chemistry could revolve around Gilroy’s Oscar Zuniga, who was a second team all-league selection last fall as a midfielder. Marques also said Hollister mid Oskar Estrada, who is just one of 12 freshmen listed on the Rams’ 17-player roster, has managed to stand out as well through six games this season.

Despite just a handful of second-year soccer players, the Rams have still received solid contributions from their sophomore class. Hollister’s Cristhian Maravilla returns as Gavilan’s keeper, Gilroy’s Carlos Cortez is back as an offensive threat, while Live Oak grad Rafael Baca, the Rams’ lone returning first team all-league selection and team MVP from a year ago, is back at the sweeper position.

Gavilan’s offensive production has seen a bit of an uptick already this season, though, perhaps due to the return of Gilroy product Hector Salgado. The sophomore forward took last year off, but has since returned to the Rams to become the team’s leading scorer this season.

Through six games, Salgado has one assist and five goals.

“He’s a great player,” said Marques, who implements both a 4-4-2 and a 3-5-2 formation. “He’s big, fast and strong.

“We’ve been able to score this year. Last year we were getting shut out.”

New realignments have positioned the Rams in the South Division this year, where they will be paired against De Anza, Foothill, Ohlone and Hartnell. Marques is expecting a strong year from Hartnell, while Foothill advanced to the postseason last year and Ohlone, in a non-conference match, defeated Gavilan 2-1 last Friday.

In other words, winning likely won’t come easy.

“It all depends,” Marques said. “In [junior college], you just don’t know what happens with other teams. I think some of the teams aren’t as good as last year while we’re a little bit better.

“Hopefully, it bodes well for us.”

NOTE: Gavilan will open Coast Conference play on Friday at Monterey Peninsula College. Kick-off is 1:30 p.m.

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