STORY AND PHOTO BY CRISTIAN SANDOVAL, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The men’s soccer team under head coach Cristian Rus are currently in the off-season, in what looks like to be a very busy one.
As preparations for the fall season have begun, looking for new talent is one of the main integral parts this off-season.
“We have some good guys that joined us in the spring and we are looking for them to get better, help the team this coming fall… The training sessions have been good. Guys have been committed for the most part. As far as recruiting, it’s going well,” said Head Coach Cristian Rus
The Chargers were able to finish in second place of Orange Empire Conference behind Fullerton College with a record of 10-6-5.
Cypress were able to lock in a spot in the CCCAA SoCal Regionals Playoffs and also host their first ever soccer playoff game in the school’s history.
In what was a double overtime thriller, the Chargers suffered a devastating 1-0 loss in the first round of the playoffs by Cuyamaca College.
“The result was disappointing. Losing in the playoffs, towards the end of the game. I thought the season overall was good for us… We finished in second place in the conference. Hosting the first playoff game for this school is great for us as a program, but we don’t want to be just competitive, we want to compete for championships, we want to win conference, we want to go to State,” said Rus.
Now in the off-season, Rus has a lot on his plate as the majority of his starting team will not be returning, as they will be moving on to four year school’s.
“ You can say half of the starting team is not here anymore. We are happy for them to be moving forward… They have been tremendous to our program, to help them grow and get better”, said Rus.
Knowing the difficulty and constant changes that come with coaching at the junior college level, Rus will be looking to replace both of his starting center backs, left back, center midfielder and winger, as they have been crucial to his starting 11 team over the last two seasons.
“That’s that part of junior college, it’s always recruiting, recruiting is critical. You always have to bring players in because you never know how things work out,” said Rus. We went out and scouted a lot of guys and hopefully they planned out to come out here as they said they will. We feel we have a strong recruiting class coming in.
Since Rus took over as head coach of the men’s soccer team in 2019, he has been able to take his team to three consecutives playoff appearances but have all ended in all first round exits to the hands of El Camino College, Mt. San Antonio College and Cuyamaca College.
“That’s tough. That’s not who I am as a coach and who we are. We want to improve out here. I think its experience. You have to get over the hump and win that game. You have to finish your chances… We were the better team. We created chances to score and gave us an opportunity to win the game.
With his fourth season as the head coach of the Chargers quickly approaching, Rus hopes for his team to come out and be stronger physically and mentally and for his returning players to be an integral part in lifting up and helping the team reach success.
“More tough I would say. Mentally tough and just physically. I think we have a different group comin in. Guys are strong mentally. More scrappy I would say,” said Rus. Also the experience of the guys that are returning. Being through that experience. Playing in their first season of the junior college level. Understand the physicality of the game, the speed of the game. I believe they are better after a year.