The 2010-11 Season in Review

 After a Difficult Start, SSF Responds With Great Play & Great Results.   Click here for the story.

 As summer was drawing to a close and the PSL Season was about to begin, there was a good feeling on the SSFAC Training ground as new additions and returning players were rounding into form. Expectations were high that the club would get off to a good start and hopefully challenge the elite teams in the Premier Division. Unfortunately for the lads, things didn't go as planned. An opening day loss to Club Sport Maritimo by a 2-0 result saw the team play shorthanded and without their starting goalkeeper for the first 45 mins. One week later a second half lead over Sunnyvale United resulted in a 3-2 loss when Sunnyvale scored twice within 3 minutes late in the game, and in their 3rd game in a row on the road, SSF battled but came up short to Deportivo Cometa 2-1 in Half Moon Bay. Even though they were now faced with an 0-3 start, the team never gave in to frustration. They continued to work hard in training, knowing that the talent was there and they would eventually put it all together. Next up was Shaheen in San Jose, and patience was finally rewarded when behind newcomers Stuart Barlow & Antony Reyes, SSF notched a 2-1 win. Finally the pressure was off and the team could now relax and just play their game. The style of play was simple....keep it on the ground, involve everyone in the play, outwork the opponent, and stick to the game plan. That first win gave the team the confidence it needed, and they proved to themselves that they were capable of playing beautiful soccer and making a run at the clubs above them in the table.

They did just that as the team went on an unbeaten streak of 6 games to run their record to 4-3-2. Included in that run was a big win at Rovers SC ( 3-0 ) and a return match with Sunnyvale which saw Fabio Marques net a hat trick in a 4-1 win. A thrilling 4-3 comeback over eventual division champion Deportivo Cometa was the match that the team really deserved, and put everyone on notice that SSF was indeed for real. After stumbling in a 4-1 loss to Shaheen, SSF again went unbeaten in their final 4 matches after the winter break. They finished the season with a record of 7-4-3 good enough for 4th place with 24 points, just 5 points shy of the top spot and only 2 points away from 2nd place. Recovering from that 0-3 start, SSFAC went unbeaten in 10 out of 11 games with a record of 7-1-3, outscoring their opponents by 38-18.

What was the differnece in this team from previous seasons? There were many reasons. First there was the commitment from the players to work together and to work hard. There was also the belief that this team would eventually mold itself into a solid contender, and finally..... there was some very good talent indeed. SSF found itself a goalkeeper who played with passion, and was fearless on the pitch. Abner Ramos stepped up to have a huge season with the team. Each week he came up with big saves and the confidence level between him and his defense led to controlled play in the back with poise to start the counter attack. The back line was again anchored by Ever Alvarez whose ability to win just about every ball in the air, and to clamp down on the opposition forwards set the tone for stellar play in front of Ramos. With new addition Scott Ellis playing in front of Alvarez, the two were an intimidating force as Ellis time and again took on every challenge and stood tall. The chemistry that developed with Ellis & Alvarez basically enhanced the level of play from the defense as captain Kenny Ewbank, Thoeun Huy Chan, Jim Burke, & Damian Hites ( who played multiple positions ) all had huge years. Howard Choy also filled in when not playing in the midfield, which showed how well the defense had come together as everyone was on the same page and playing flawlessly. Ewbank was now distributing balls out on the flank, "TC" was covering ground all over the pitch, & Burke was the stabilizing factor up the middle. Hites was the X factor, as he usually was asked to match up against tough opponents and never let the team down with his style of play till you drop, and rest later.

The teams strong point became its midfield, where for the first time in years the center of the pitch was owned by two dynamic players...Blair Smith & Bobby Quinlan. They controlled the tempo of the game, made exciting runs, distributed excellent passes to their teammates and scored big goals in big games. Smith was a marksman on free kicks, often curving a ball to place it exactly where he wanted, while Quinlan was relentless in his pursuit often stripping the ball away from his opponents and then making a run at goal creating chnces for the team. Their supporting cast was led by Leandro Monteiro, who was brilliant on the wing, Andrew Pantano making strong runs and scoring goals from either the midfield or forward position, and Ryan Weigmann who came into his own this season providing strong play from the wing and adding a goal scoring touch to his game that proved valuable to the team. Pantano & Weigmann made the difference down the stretch as they began to dominate play with their constant hustle and never say die approach to the game. Rafael Arguello in his second year with the club, was a key figure on the field. No matter if he played in the center of the pitch or out on the flank, his tireless efforts led to many offensive chances for the team and he scored or assisted on pivotal goals duriing the teams unbeaten run. Cesar Maldonado also had huge contributions when on the pitch, winning balls in the midfield and setting up teammates for scoring chances when the play pushed foward. When Omar Perez-Diaz returned to the team after a season of college ball with CCSF, he brought the playmaking skills and the flair for the dramatic back with him. In just a handful of games, he scored goals to help the team to wins, and became a handful for opposing teams with his effortless touches on the ball as he cruised up the pitch. As play developed near the goal, one could find the High Flyin Brazilian waiting to strike. Fabio Marques had another big year for the club, scoring goals and becoming the assist leader as he set up his teammates. Always a dangerous player on the pitch, Marques can strike from just about anywhere, and now as he dishes off to teammates, he is becoming a complete player who will be dangerous in many ways. Stuart Barlow in his first season with the team provided the goal scoring threat that had been missing in the past. His vision on the pitch and ability to take a ball and finish it in short quick moves helped get SSF off to a great start this season. Unfortunately, Stuart's job took him away from the club at mid season, but hopefully he will return in the future. The same can be said for Antony Reyes, a dynamic scorer with a nose for the goal. He showed flashes of brilliance early on, but an injury forced him off him off the pitch and he was not able to return. Hopefully he will recover and find his way back to the club.

The 2010-2011 team finished with its best record since 2005, and with the majority of the players set to return in July to begin training for 2011, things again look promising for another successful season. Especially if they can "keep it on the ground, involve everyone in the play, outwork the opponent, and stick to the game plan."

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