Talk about a loaded victory.
By beating Humboldt State 1-0 on Sunday, the Cal State Stanislaus men's soccer team ended a six-game winless streak. It won a California Collegiate Athletic Association game on the road, which is no easy feat, and even less so since the Warriors hadn't won a game in Arcata.
But the Warriors (2-4-2) hope the victory also is a turning point in a season that hasn't begun as solidly as anticipated.
Stanislaus enjoyed a breakout year in 2006, advancing to the CCAA Tournament for the first time and posting its best record (10-9-2) since joining the CCAA in 1998.
Twelve players returned from that team. Returning with them, though, have been some bad habits. The Warriors won their first game, 3-0 over Notre Dame de Namur on Aug. 23, then lost or tied their next six.
"The talent level is the strongest it's been," head coach Eric Mild said. "Unfortunately, we've suffered by not finishing scoring opportunities. That's been typical of Stanislaus teams the last couple years. We don't score the goals, and the defensive mistakes are magnified tenfold."
Stanislaus debuted fourth in the Far West Region coaches' poll. It took two teams to double overtime, including No. 22 Seattle Pacific, and lost to No. 6 Seattle. Mild said there hasn't been a slouch on the schedule and believes his players are at least as good as those on the toughest teams.
In good times and bad, the spotlight shines on senior forwards Kishin Hamaguchi and Dennis Wolfe. Mild said the two have been frustrated by a recent scoring drought, but he thinks their confidence will help pull them through.
"The cohesiveness is good," Mild said. "The understanding and awareness among teammates is there. We just need that final piece of the puzzle."
All-CCAA honorable-mention pick Brice Burtchett, Thomas Janz and Kyle Lindquist share the backfield with returners Cody Chambers, Colin Breshears and All-CCAA honorable mention selection Artemio Arteaga.
Senior Alfredo Renteria, who scored against Humboldt State, and juniors Matt Johnson and Ross Crown mind the middle. Mild was complimentary of freshmen Matt Santinello in the midfield and Kyle Beck up front.
"Those two have been contributing quite a bit," Mild said. "They're providing a spark when they come off the bench. They're adapting to the speed of the college game, which freshmen usually don't do."
Goalkeeper Mando Herrera posted his fourth shutout in his backyard. The Eureka native and three-year starter was a second-team All-West Region pick last season. Herrera has 27 saves in eight games this season.
Mild, who played at and graduated from Humboldt State, said the Warriors' latest victory couldn't have come at a better time.
They're in the midst of the most challenging part of their schedule with two road games in the far north, followed by two road games in the far south.
Stanislaus plays at Cal Poly Pomona (1-2-1 CCAA) on Friday and Cal State San Bernardino (0-3-1 CCAA) on Sunday. The Warriors have been simplifying things this week, working on repetition and game situations.
"We just need to finish one to two more chances to make things go our way," Mild said.