Hancock College men's soccer coach Billy Vinnedge said his 2017 team has the same goal that every Hancock men's soccer team has had.
"Every year, your goal is to win the conference championship," Vinnedge said.
Vinnedge spoke during a recent workout. His soccer squad, like the other Hancock fall sports teams, are gearing up for the upcoming season.
Besides a conference championship, Vinnedge said his team has another goal.
"We need to finish games," he said. "We had a lead of a goal or more at halftime 10 or 11 times and we couldn't hold the lead."
The lack of finishing power contributed heavily to Hancock's 5-14-2 (3-7-0 in the Western State Conference North) ledger in 2016.
"A lot of (losing the leads) had to do with the defense, not being in good enough condition to handle the change of pace between high school and college soccer," Vinnedge said.
"Toward the end last year, we ended up subbing for (defenders) more often, getting fresh legs in there."
Vinnedge chuckled. "This year we don't want to do that."
The former All-Conference Hancock College kicker will start his fourth season as the Bulldogs' head coach when Hancock hosts Monterey Peninsula College at 4 p.m. Aug. 25.
Vinnedge is hoping experience will make for a better defense this year. "Except for the goalkeepers, We have just about everybody from our defense back last year," he said.
Besides returning center back Joseph Goryance, among others, Vinnedge is counting on several players who played for him in 2015 and took the next year off, including midfielders Francisco Ayala and Christian Moreno.
Moreno signed in 2016 to play for Holy Names University, a four-year school, but has since returned to Hancock.
As for Ayala, "I just missed soccer," after attending school at Hancock last year but not playing soccer there, said the Santa Maria High School graduate.
Besides, "I want to try to get a scholarship and try to go somewhere," he said.
As for his returners on defense, Vinnedge said he has Mario Delgado, Angel Gallo, Ulises Perez and Isaac Valdez. "They all played a lot last year," the veteran Hancock coach said.
"Mario was at center back. Ulises was at left back. Angel can play anywhere, and Isaac returns in the middle."
Vinnedge said, "We have a good defender coming in, Juan Rios who graduated from Pioneer Valley."
Forward Ulysses Cardona is another one who will play for Vinnedge after taking the 2016 season off. Cardona graduated from Lompoc in 2015.
Besides not playing soccer, Cardona said he took the 2016-17 school year off from school, too. "I worked on a ranch," he said.
Now he's back in school and back on the soccer pitch. "Soccer is something I like doing, so I thought 'Why not give it another move up?,'" said Cardona.
"I always was in shape, but I think I'm getting into soccer shape again, getting on the same page with all my teammates."
Forward Miguel Gomez is a returner for Vinnedge. "Our big problem last year was conditioning, and we're getting into better condition this year," said Gomez.
"After that, it will be just a matter of working on the technical things."
Vinnedge said, "I think Miguel and Ulysses will do great things together up top".
Vinnedge said freshmen Antony Herrera and Juan Cortez are competing for the starting goalkeeping spot. "That's going to be a battle over the next week and a half," said Hancock's coach.
Vinnedge welcomed two new assistant coaches; Ricardo Vazquez and goalkeepers coach Uribe Ponce.
"Uribe played here a few years ago," said Vinnedge. "Having them both is really going to help."
Women's cross country
At press time, Hancock coach Louie Quintana had sixrunners who he said were firmly committed to joining the program.
Besides returnees Carmen Uvalle, Brianna Magana and Michaelia Praska, Quintana said he has two freshman newcomers who graduated from Lompoc High School; Kadie Pulliam and Yadira Castellanos, and another newcomer, freshman Amanas Baxter.
The Bulldogs were originally scheduled to debut Aug. 25 at the Oxnard Invitational, but Quintana said that because he wasn't sure what kind of numbers he would have, he cancelled his team's appearance there.
Instead, Hancock will open its season Sept. 9 at the Fresno Invitational at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Women's water polo
The Bulldogs finished 14-16, including 3-7 in the Western State Conference, in 2016. However, they finished fourth in the conference tournament, and coach Dominique Miller was named the WSC Coach of the Year.
Two-time All-Western State Conference First Team member Rebecca Gonzalez graduated, but Shannon Copeland, the team's leading scorer in 2016, returns. Copeland, who also had 34 steals and 20 assists in 2016, made the All-WSC Second Team in 2016.
Meagan Coyne, the team's third-leading scorer, earned All-Conference honorable mention last year. She 's back.
Hancock has three other returnees; utility players Makena Blanco and Allie Shea, and driver Ellyn Clardy.
"We lost some really key players (to graduation), but I'm excited about the upcoming season," said Miller. "I think we'll do really well."
Miller is counting on two freshmen, Madison Stangl and Alicia Reyes, to add to Hancock's scoring punch.
"Madison can shoot with her left or right hand," said Miller. "We're excited about that."
Stangl graduated from Cabrillo High School. Reyes graduated from Santa Ynez.
Miller conceded that the void left by graduated goal keeper Kinsley Edman, who earned All-Conference honorable mention, will be big.
She is counting on freshmen Shay McMann and Dominique Rivera to fill the void. "They're both competing strongly for the starting goalkeeper position," Miller said at press time.
Hancock will open at the Cuesta Tournament Sept. 8.
The numbers were perilously low for veteran Hancock coach Julio Molina not long ago, but he said at press time they have since built up.
"We had a heck of an off-season," said Molina. "We were down to six players two and a half weeks ago. I sent out a bunch of emails, and there was a good response. We're up to 13 players."
The Bulldogs will try to rebound after going 0-19 last year. If they do, Molina acknowledged they will do it during a re-building year.
"We have one returnee from last year," he said. That is sophomore setter Azriella De La Pena. The Bulldogs had several freshmen last year, but only De La Pena came back.
One newcomer Molina is particularly banking on is outside hitter Inez Mangino.
"She an outside hitter who graduated from Redlands High School in 2015. She's a very good volleyball player," Molina said.
Molina said he believes Gwynn Menane, a freshman in terms of eligibility who graduated from Nipomo High School in 2016, will also bolster the Bulldogs. Menane is a middle hitter.
"The other positions are wide open," Molina said.
Hancock will open its season at the Moorpark Quad Tournament Sept. 2.