Hustle and flow are the reasons why the Dons outscored its opponents 22 to two through its seven-game win streak. The team developed into a cohesive family-like unit with the ability to score at will.
“When you see a team rolling, all the hours you put in are finally paying off,” Assistant Coach Jose Retiz said. “They truly know it is not a one man team. Everybody wins together, everybody loses together.”
Month long win streaks are no flukes. They are products of hard work, preparation, determination and a little bit of good luck.
“My thing is to work hard on defense,” Head Coach Jose Vasquez said. “If you finish one offensive chance you’ll win the game, as long as you play solid defense.”
Seven players combined for all the goals with sophomore forward Briant Rodelo leading the way with eight. Four other Dons’ players netted two goals each.
“The mix we have, especially at forward, can come in at any time and finish a game for us,” Vasquez said. “We like a scoring variety. Teams who scout us before a game don’t know who to mark.”
Efficient on field communication leads to an understanding that allows the team to run a lethal offense with multiple weapons.
“We work the system over and over. Connecting passes and moving around while communicating,” freshman defender Jose Ibarra said. “That’s why we are out here, to perfect how each other moves.”
Through 10 games the team sat at (4-3-3) overall and (1-1-1) in conference. Now the Dons’ record is (11-4-3) and (8-2-1) in conference, good enough for first place in the Orange Empire Conference.
“All the players found their rhythm,” Rodelo said. “All the different aspects of our game came together.”
In the beginning of the season the Dons alternated between starting goalies. During the seven game win streak freshman goalkeeper Jose Sosa played 575 of the 630 total minutes. His ability to communicate while dominating the box is why the coaching staff had the confidence to make Sosa the full time goalie after a 2-2 tie at home against Cypress Sept. 30.
“We see him as a leader back there,” Vasquez said. “He talks more, is more aggressive and controls his area now.”
As a red shirt, Sosa had the experience of practicing with the team a full season before stepping onto the field. He parleyed his exposure into a successful season thus far. Three shutouts and 60 saves contributed to the continuation of the streak.
“I saw how tough it was last year,” Sosa said. “Being able to soak in all the training from last year has given me the opportunity to be more complete than if I came straight out of high school.”
Winning seven consecutive games creates feelings of glee, accomplishment and courage while maintaining the desire to improve.
“It makes me want to work harder and it gives the team confidence to keep going,” sophomore midfielder Cesar Hernandez said. “It starts self motivation to help us bond and enjoy games more.”
The team has put together a win streak of at least 7 games every season dating back to 2004. During the 2005 season, the Dons rolled out 13 consecutive wins.
“We wanted to be a team that represents what Santa Ana soccer stands for,” Ibarra said.
The streak ended Tuesday, Nov. 1, with a 5-1 loss at Orange Coast College. The team has three OEC games left before the playoffs.
The next game is tomorrow with the Dons hosting the Santiago Canyon Hawks.
The Hawks will enter the game with an overall record of (4-13-0) and a OEC record of (2-9-0), seventh in the conference.