Cabrillo College forward Mark Gonzalez, No. 22, was rushed by his teammates after he knocked in a goal for the Seahawks men's soccer team in their 3-0 win over Modesto in the opening round of the CCCAA NorCal Regional playoffs Nov. 16. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

SEASIDE—After finishing the regular season with three consecutive ties, the Cabrillo College men’s soccer team still managed to qualify for the NorCal Regional playoffs. 

The No. 9-seeded Seahawks defeated No. 24 Modesto, 3-0, in the first round of California Community College Athletic Association postseason action at CSU Monterey Bay.

But despite being ranked as the home team, Cabrillo (10-4-6, 3-3-5) had to “host” the Pirates (7-7-6, 2-4-4) off campus for the opening round of the regional playoffs.

“It’s kinda weird that you have a home game and you can’t play at your own place,” said Cabrillo head coach Paolo Carbone.

CCCAA playoff regulations require a field 70 yards wide, while Cabrillo’s measures only 67.

It was an unfamiliar stadium for Seahawks players but they were able to comfortably secure a shutout win and move forward into the playoffs. 

Cabrillo will play at No. 8 Butte (15-2-4, 7-1) on Saturday at noon.

On Wednesday, the Seahawks led 2-0 going into halftime with defender Gavin Keith and forward Eric Vazquez—a Watsonville High alumnus—each contributing a goal.

Freshman forward Mark Gonzalez—a Pajaro Valley High alumnus—kicked in his fourth goal of the season to put Cabrillo up 3-0 and secure a win.

“It just sealed the game,” Gonzalez said. “I’m proud of myself and proud of my team, it’s a great feeling.”

Cabrillo is averaging 2.5 goals per game on 33 assists with a 5.4 shot percentage this season.

While the game began relatively slowly, a goal by Keith 22 minutes into the match gave them the momentum to run away with a victory.

“Once we scored the first goal, we came alive after that,” Carbone said. “The second half was much easier to manage.”

The Seahawks’ defense was also a pivotal component going into the game. They had not won in a shutout in over a month and were focused going up against Modesto.

On the other end of the field, Cabrillo was on the attack throughout the game. Leading up to playoffs, they practiced the way they wanted to play.

“We touch the ball around, get the ball up the field. We look for our strikers, look for our wingers, get early crosses in, and hope for the best,” Gonzalez said.

Cabrillo has shown flashes of dominance during the season, including a 7-1 win against Marin and a 5-1 victory against San Francisco. The Seahawks previously faced off against the Pirates, defeating them 3-1.

“We played against them already, so we knew a little bit of what to expect,” Carbone said.

The Seahawks managed one win over the last month of the regular season, but now they’re hoping to start a winning streak in the playoffs.

“We’re coming off a tough end of the season,” said Gonzalez.

Cabrillo has prepared and developed all year for the chance to make it far in the playoffs.

Carbone believes in the ability of his team to implement everything they have learned as a team moving forward.

“This is a great team, they’ve worked together since the beginning of the year. We’ve been very united,” Carbone said.

Butte earned a bye in the first round and will play its first playoff game against the visiting Seahawks. Carbone said it could be an advantage for them, but he also knows the 5-hour trek to Oroville is going to be a battle.

Gonzalez and the Seahawks are confident in their ability to knock off the higher ranked Roadrunners on Saturday afternoon.

“We just want to win, we want to win it all,” Gonzalez said. “I believe our team is the best team in the state, so I think we can win it all.”

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