STORY BY: CRISTIAN SANDOVAL
PHOTO BY BRETT FRANCHINO
The men’s soccer team has begun preparations for the fall season under head coach, Cristian Rus.
The Chargers finished last season in third place in the Orange Empire Conference with a record of 9-7-5. The team was able to make the playoffs, but was knocked out in the first round of the SoCal Regionals against Mt. San Antonio.
During this offseason, the Chargers train twice a week, but sessions aren’t as intense as in the fall during the season, said Coach Rus.
“We train Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those are all the returns coming in and some guys that are interested in our program trying out, so we signed them up in our Tuesday and Thursday class. We train from 1 o’clock to 4 o’clock and we have about 15 in the class. So it’s a small number compared to the fall season, where we have al- most 30 guys in there,” said Head Coach Cristian Rus.
The last half of the season was very fierce for the Hornets, as their chances of making the playoffs were very slim, but were able to defeat Fullerton College on the last day of the season. With a series of defeats from other schools, the Hornets locked their spot into the SoCal Regionals.
“It’s not as intense as in the fall just because we want to focus on school more. Fall season has been long, draining, physically, mentally for them. So we have some guys out with injuries recovering. We had two spring games. Those were good games for us, just to kind of get some guys more exposure,” said Rus.
Coach Rus’ offseason has made him more occupied since he will have to assemble his defense and midfield. This comes as two key players from his team last season, Kian Aminloo and Alfonso Montano, have just signed with four-year schools.
“We just had two of our guys moving on to four-year schools. Our center back is moving to San Marcos and center mid, leading scorer, is moving to Concordia University. Those are both division II. We have one of our center mids talking right now to Cal State L.A.,” said Rus.
Filling in those gaps in the central midfield and in the back is going to be a difficult task that awaits coach Rus and his coaching staff.
“Those are hard positions. Defensively, we were very good last year. We had the least goals against us in the season. We have some defenders coming in. Those are the main positions we are looking to fill in right now,” said Rus.
Recruiting players to come into the soccer program is another quest during the off-season for Coach Rus. It’s not just about focusing on soccer but on school work, being honest with the athlete, and letting them know what the Cypress College program represents.
“We are looking for a lot of recruits. So we bring in recruits from different high schools, clubs and we tell them this is the best program in junior college in the area and we prepare them for four-year schools,” said Rus.
Rus said that one of the main goals is to transfer his student-athletes to four-year schools. Being honest with them is an important point when speaking to them. But at the same time, it’s up to them whether or not they put in the work and perform well on the field.
“We train hard. We do well in our classes. Our program did well in the classes last year. We had a 3.01 GPA. We tell them that soccer is important, but also school. So we want to tell them this is the right environment for them to grow as a soccer player but also as student-athletes,” said Rus.
As the off-season continues and the fall season approaches, Coach Rus expects his players to keep growing and realize the amount of work and effort it takes to win, be better student-athletes, and hopefully reach the goal of winning the conference and having a chance of playing for the championship.
“Continue to grow. More game understanding for them. In this environment, we teach them how to win games, how to perform, how to train. The goal is to win the conference and play for the championship. Hopefully, this will be the year to do it,” said Rus.