Lions make history

Vanguard wins GSAC tourney title and earns first berth into NAIA national tournament.

November 13, 2010|By Steve Virgen,
(Courtesy of Vanguard…)

COSTA MESA — Two months ago, Vanguard University men's soccer coach Randy Dodge gathered his team for an important meeting.

With tears in his eyes he told his players of his mistake, about how he forgot to sit out a game to begin the season because of a red card from the finale last year. The Lions would have to forfeit six games, which meant their No. 5 ranking in the NAIA would drop and their chances for reaching the national tournament would be difficult.

But Dodge's emotion stirred the Lions. The players became motivated.

In the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament title match at Vanguard, that determination showed. The Lions scored three goals in the first half Saturday and punched their first ticket in school history to the national tournament with a 3-0 win against Azusa Pacific.

"As a professional I was destroyed, but these guys brought me back," Dodge said. "I did take it hard. These guys said, 'Screw it. We're good enough that we're going to win out.' They said, 'Coach, don't even worry about it. We got your back.' "


The Lions started the year 5-0-1, but those games counted as 1-0 losses after Dodge's penalty. After Dodge's dramatic meeting with his team, Vanguard (13-7) won 13 of the next 14 matches, including 10 straight, posting nine shutouts along the way.

Dodge said he discovered his infraction the day before the Lions' GSAC opener at Azusa Pacific Sept. 25. He showed discomfort talking about it on Saturday. He just wanted to talk about the Lions' success instead.

Who could blame him? Vanguard, ranked No. 16, was dynamic in the first half and dominant defensively throughout.

"We came out with a lot of passion and a lot of heart," said goalie Trevor Herrera, one of six Lions who are on the All-GSAC team. "We had to win or we go home. We transferred that in the first half. I don't think Azusa was ready for the amount of pace that we were going at."

Herrera said the Lions have been playing with that type of energy ever since Dodge told them of the forfeits.

"Dodge came to us and he was very emotional," said Herrera, who made seven saves. "He was crying and he had tears coming down his face. The team came together and instead of reacting negatively everybody said, 'It doesn't matter what you did. We're going to win the GSAC and go to nationals.' It's a testament of what a team can do when the players come together.

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