BY ANTHONY MENDOLIA
Photo courtesy of COD Athletics.
Looking back, it is hard to argue that there has been a more impressive season in COD’s men’s soccer program’s history. Coach Enrique Cardenas, who took the job just last year, led the team to their first conference title since 1999. They followed that with some success in the playoffs, making it all the way to the CCCAA SoCal Regional Semifinals, where their season, unfortunately, was ended by #2 ranked Mt. San Antonio.
Regardless of the defeat, this season is one that the coach is tremendously proud of, and so should the COD community. When asked if he expected success so soon when he first took this job, the answer was a very confident one.
“That was always the plan,” Cardenas said. “The first thing I said when I showed up to meet the guys was that we’re going to be conference champions. I followed up by letting them know it was going to take a lot of work, but I was going to make sure that we were going to do it.”
And they certainly did. There have been plenty of highlights to this amazing season, but there are two moments that certainly stick out. The first one would be in their very first game of the season, where the beat the #2 team in the nation, Cerritos, essentially announcing their arrival as serious competitors.
The second moment, of course, would be clinching the conference championship at home on the sophomore night against Palomar. The celebration amongst the players and coaches on Robert F. Boone Field was very lively and for good reason. Coach Cardenas is incredibly proud of his sophomores for taking this program to new heights.
“These guys built the program on their back. They’ve put up with me for two years, which is incredible and a feat of its own,” Cardenas joked. “The work that I ask of them is insane, and they deserve all of the praise that they’re getting for sure.”
With the season just ending, it would be reasonable to assume that coaches and players would want to take a little bit of time off. It seems with the Roadrunners, however that couldn’t be further away from the truth.
“We had Thanksgiving off, and then we started up again,” the head coach explained. “Right now, [the players] are doing captains’ practices on their own, so they guys are still grinding getting after it. “We’ve already starting scouting opponents for next season, as well as high school players that we want to bring our program.”
Coach Cardenas has also been working on talking to schools for some of his players that are willing to continue their collegiate soccer career, which he states is a more important goal than a conference championship. He wants to prepare his guys to succeed at the next level, and that is something that is very admirable indeed. It is clear here at the Chaparral that Coach Cardenas has this program built to continue to be a force for years to come. Congratulations coach on a tremendous season!