Sequoia had only lost once after its first 11 games, but third-year coach Julio Calles had not been happy with his team’s performance and held a team meeting a week ago, thinking his team had become a bit overconfident as the season has worn on.
“We were playing so hard early in the season. They wanted to win,” Calles said. “They really didn’t play. They got a little cocky. That’s not the way I want to see them play.”
Sequoia (7-2-3, 2-1-3 PAL Bay Division) rolled to a 5-1-0 record in the preseason with the only loss coming in a 1-0 home game against Sacred Heart Cathedral.
But the Cherokee have three ties and a loss in their past four matches prior to Wednesday’s game. Two of the ties were unacceptable to Calles.
“We were winning 2-0 [against Menlo-Atherton]. For 60 minutes, we played the ball. They got too cocky in the second half,” Calles said. “They were disappointed at the end because they came back. To me, that was a loss.”
Two matches later, Sequoia tied with Half Moon Bay, which is currently toward the bottom of the Bay Division.
“There was no reason for us to tie Half Moon Bay. I hope they learn from that mistake,” Calles said. “I totally believe they will be more focused.”
The lack of focus could be coming from the team’s youth.
Sequoia has 12 nonseniors on its squad, but that youth has not been a hindrance to the Cherokees.
“In the beginning I was kind of scared,” Calles said. “I give them a lot of credit.”
But one of the few seniors, last year’s PAL Bay Goalkeeper of the Year Victor Meraz, returns and has been a crucial piece to the Cherokees’ success.
“To me and many other coaches, he is the best goalkeeper in the league. It’s a plus,” Calles said. “He knows the players see him as a leader. They’re trying to follow his direction.”
Meraz has allowed less than one goal per game this season.
Sequoia will meet M-A and Burlingame, which were the Bay’s co-champions a season ago, one more time with the first coming on Feb. 3 against the Bears.
“I told them in the meeting I like to compete. I told them I expect a much different attitude,” Calles said. “They have to work harder and I’m pretty sure they’re going to do it.”
Sequoia missed the CCS playoffs last season after a season in which it won the PAL Bay and was the top seed in the CCS Division II playoffs.