By MARTY JAMES
The Napa Valley College men's soccer team went into the 2019 season as the two-time defending Bay Valley Conference champions.
So far, the Storm is still looking for its first win, having taking on the assignment of facing a very tough lineup of nonconference opponents.
After losses to Folsom Lake, 2-0, and Foothill of Los Altos Hills, 4-1, the Storm battled to a 0-0 tie last week against City College of San Francisco.
Napa Valley lost on Tuesday, falling to San Joaquin Delta in Stockton, 1-0.
Two goals by Kameron Kascht, the first coming in the 12th minute and the second coming in the 89th minute, lifted Folsom Lake over Napa Valley. Adam Ratto had two assists.
Two goals from Brandon Holguin and two goals from Adrien Tompert carried Foothill past Napa Valley. Assists were credited to Alejandro Carrillo, Iver Lyche and Neel Prasad.
Daniel Gomez scored the only goal in San Joaquin Delta's win over Napa Valley (0-3-1 overall).
Napa Valley has three more nonconference matches to go – Sept. 20 at Las Positas of Livermore, Sept. 24 at Hartnell of Salinas, and at home on Sept. 27 against West Valley of Saratoga.
"The boys have been working hard," third-year Storm head coach Rogelio Ochoa said. "Hopefully, we can get a little bit of momentum going. We need that one win. That's what we're looking for right now.
"It's a good team. I'm very excited for the season."
Napa Valley has been on top of the Bay Valley Conference the last two years.
The 2017 team lost in Round 1 of the California Community College Athletic Association Northern California Regional Playoffs to Hartnell, 7-0. The Storm went 12-7 overall, 8-2 in the conference.
The 2018 team ended the season with a 3-0 loss to West Valley in the first round of the CCCAA NorCal Playoffs. The Storm was 7-9-3 overall and 4-2-2 in the conference.
Last year's team scored 32 goals, an average of 1.68 goals per game.
"The goal this year is you always want to win conference – that should be a given. But it would be nice to go past that first round. I think we have the talent to do it," said Ochoa.
"We are just now working on the style game, getting the guys to know each other. We have got everyone healthy and we've got everyone ready to go."
Napa Valley is led by Jesus Ochoa, a sophomore from Vintage High School; Marco Manzo, a freshman from Vintage; Julio Alonzo, a freshman from Napa High; and Carlos Ayala, a freshman from Vintage. They each can play multiple positions.
"That's what I like about these players – they understand the game well enough and they're willing to move wherever we need them, based on the opponent or the need of the team at that moment," said Rogelio Ochoa.
There are 20 players on the team. The Storm begins its Bay Valley Conference season on Oct. 1 at home against College of Marin of Kentfield.
"A lot of these players have lots of experience at a young age," Rogelio Ochoa said. "I've seen these players grow up through the high school system and through the club system. I've coached them or coached against them, so that's a big positive for me as a coach that I understand what I have and there's not that adjustment period between players and coaches and the coaching staff. It has been very minimal because I already know them. They know me.
"We're going out there playing and we understand the purpose of the game and how we're trying to play."
Napa Valley scrimmaged against Pacific Union College, a small NAIA school from Angwin that plays in the California Pacific Conference, in August.
The Storm has additional nonconference games later in the season against American River of Sacramento and Santa Rosa Junior College.
"I like to impose a style where we like to keep the ball, where we like to be comfortable with the ball. We like to manage the game to the best of our ability," said Rogelio Ochoa.
Also on the team is Bryan Reynoso, a freshman from Vallejo High; Jason Reyes, a freshman from Vallejo High; Javier Rodriguez, a sophomore from Vallejo High; Alex Cendejas, a sophomore from Vintage; Luis Moreno, a sophomore from Armijo High in Fairfield; Jose Gutierrez, a sophomore from Vallejo High; Juan Carlos Ayala, a sophomore from Deer Valley High in Antioch; Jesus Gonzalez, a freshman from Vintage; Juan Aguilar, a sophomore from Napa High; Victor Fernandez, a freshman from St. Helena High; Yamikani McHombo, a sophomore from American Canyon High; Nicholas Erwin, a freshman from Armijo; Gregorio Soria, a sophomore from Armijo; William Biondini, a freshman from American Canyon High; Cruz Palafoz, a freshman from Napa High; and Jonathan Solana, a freshman from Napa High.
"We're all healthy right now and ready to go. Obviously, we have a target on our back as back-to-back champions," said Rogelio Ochoa. "They're going to want to take that banner away from us. So we're going to have to step up our game even more. This team is going to have to be able to play with that target on their back. It's going to be interesting and challenging, but I know the boys can do it."
Rogelio Ochoa is assisted by Ivan Colin.
* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association, Associated Press Sports Editors, and California Prep Sports Media Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.