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49er soccer freshman-heavy, expects early growing pains
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Going into rebuilding mode doesn't faze Yuba College soccer coach Imed Dossy.
The last three years, his men's program put together one of the most impressive runs in program history: Three consecutive Bay Valley Conference titles, three straight playoff berths and at least 12 wins per season.
Since taking over for the 49ers in the fall of 2006, Dossy has seen a gradual increase in success, culminating in last year's first-round playoff victory over Hartnell. Yuba didn't make it past the first round in 2008 or '09.
Year six of his tenure is underway, though it could be a season of regression. The 49ers lost 15 sophomores from last season and return only two starters.
"We know we're going to start from scratch this year," Dossy said. "It takes time. I think this team can do well, but we need to move quickly through our growing pains."
Those pains were prominent in Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to San Joaquin Delta College.
The Mustangs dominated possession and kept the ball on the Niners' half of the field for the majority of the match.
Delta's first two goals came on miscommunication between Yuba's goalkeeper and defenders. The third score was a highlight-reel header from Raul Fernandez. Delta outshot Yuba 21-4.
Dossy couldn't fault the effort of his team. On a squad where 16 of the 20 players are freshmen, he tries to find positives.
The 49ers' 1-2-1 start is more than he expected. With a similar team in his first year as head coach, Yuba started 0-11.
"They need to get used to the speed of the game," Dossy said. "High school is more relaxed, it's almost like training compared to (college).
"The more they play, the more it slows down and becomes easy for them."
Dossy's main objective this past offseason was targeting the area's local talent and convincing those players to stay home and play for the 49ers.
Only two of the 20 players listed on his roster are not from Mid-Valley high schools. He considers that a big achievement.
Trying to get players to stay home to play college ball is one of the toughest things he has to do.
"We established this program a little bit and started getting kids to come out that didn't use to," Dossy said. "We have a lot of good players here. I think it can bring the community together."
Sophomore Alex Butterfield knows all about the prep soccer scene.
When he's not captaining the Niners, he's Nevada Union High's head varsity soccer coach.
The 28-year-old United Kingdom transplant led the team in assists (11) in 2010 and scored six goals.
"This year is a year of adjustment," Butterfield said. "My task this year is to get them all to understand the system, to get them to all understand the level they have to step up to play college because it's so different from high school."
Butterfield and Dossy both believe the new players will catch on soon enough.
Dossy said as long as the team is hitting its stride when BVC play begins in two weeks the talent is there to deliver the 49ers their fourth straight conference crown.
For Butterfield, it's his last season playing soccer.
He's the player and the on-field coach. He says his job is getting the freshmen ready for the future. He hopes they mature in time to capture a championship.
"We know it's going to be tougher this year with a lot of freshmen," Butterfield said. "but we still expect to win the conference.
"We're not going to settle for anything less."