Already mired in a five-game losing streak, the College of the Canyons men’s soccer team hoped a return home after a two-game hiatus could halt the skid.
But a free-kick goal in the first half was all El Camino College needed to add to the Cougars’ slump in a 1-0 non-conference loss at Cougar Stadium.
“A lot of the struggles have come from little mental breaks and it seems every other team has capitalized on them,” said Cougars assistant coach Adonay Jovel. “We’ve been improving every game (during the losing streak) but those mental breaks are killing us.
Jovel, filling in for head coach Phil Marcellin who was suspended after receiving a red card in Friday’s loss to Santa Monica, pointed to El Camino’s only goal of the night for an example of the mental lapses referenced.
The Cougars (2-8) were on the attack a little over 20 minutes into the contest but were unable to get the ball outside as they crossed midfield.
El Camino (5-4-2) forced a turnover and then nearly started a breakaway before an Aaron Wisnick foul garnered a yellow card and a free kick.
Aided by misdirection, with two players approaching the ball, El Camino’s Brian Burrell snuck in his shot from 10 feet beyond the penalty box, just out of reach to the right of Cougars goalkeeper Gabriel Ochoa.
“We had a guy dribble right into pressure, he lost it, and then they made us pay,” Jovel said. “It’s those small moments, small seconds. If we can clean some of those things up we’re going to turn it around.”
The Cougars didn’t log a shot on goal and had six shots on the night, with Matthew Garcia leading the team with two. Their best chance to score came after Iban Alaniz was fouled in the penalty box while attempting a header at the 86:08 mark.
Rather than a penalty kick, the Cougars were given an indirect free kick and Tyler Jovel missed high.
“I really don’t know why we weren’t given a penalty kick,” Garcia said. “We’ve just kind of been getting unlucky like that of late.”
El Camino ended with four shots on goal but had just one total shot in the second half. Meanwhile, the Cougars were unable to knot the score despite four second-half corner kicks compared to none for the Warriors.
“Every ball we put in on the corners we made a play on,” Garcia said. “We just have to keep our heads up and try not to force things just because we’re struggling.”
Valencia alum Caesar Dominguez had a breakaway off the left side with about 25 minutes to play but, like Tyler Jovel, missed high.
The Cougars have been shut out their last three games and they finish out their non-conference schedule Friday at home against Los Angeles Mission College.
NOTES — The Canyons women’s soccer team (8-2) directly followed the men’s game and beat Moorpark College 1-0 on a goal from Saugus alum Hailey Phipps at the 89:49 mark.