The Foothill College men’s soccer team’s sensational season could be described as an international effort.
The Owls reached the state semifinals for the first time in 27 years with a roster featuring 10 players from foreign countries.
“I feel that’s one of my strengths as a coach – blending players from different cultures,” said Tom Liner, who this month capped his 17th season at Foothill. “I played overseas for three years in Austria and understand what it’s like to be from a different culture than a lot of your teammates.”
The coach noted that Foothill has always attracted a large contingent of international students, so it’s not unusual to have several foreign players on the squad. This year’s roster included seven athletes from Sweden, two from Brazil and one from Austria.
Two of the Swedes – sophomore defenders Eric Bohlin and Robin Skarvik – have played together since age 10. Bohlin was recently named an All-American.
Freshman goalie Marcel Berghofer of Austria posted the best goals-against average in the state.
Leading scorer Edgardo Molina is from the area. The freshman from Menlo-Atherton High tallied 13 goals. He shared captain duties with Bohlin and Skarvik.
Skarvik’s goal off a corner kick in the 93rd minute lifted the Owls to their playoff-opening win, 1-0 over visiting Feather River. Seventh-seeded Foothill – in the postseason for the seventh straight year – then went on the road and beat American River 5-3.
The Owls’ next game was much closer. Foothill edged host Santa Rosa 1-0 on a shot by Brazilian forward Nikolas Ferro in the 89th minute.
The victory sent the Owls (14-4-5) to the state semis in Sacramento, where they faced four-time defending state champ Mt. San Antonio. After a scoreless first half, Foothill fell 2-1.
Soon after Bohlin’s late goal cut the Owls’ deficit in half, forward Octovio Perez nearly scored the equalizer.
“He missed by a foot to the keeper’s left with about five minutes to go,” Liner said.
Although this ranks as his most successful season, Liner won’t rate it higher than past years: “They’re all satisfying.”
He credited much of this year’s success to “the real family atmosphere” surrounding his team. He added that the aura extended to the women’s team, which advanced to the state semis as well.
“We like to think of it as one whole program as opposed to two teams,” Liner said.
The women reached the state final four for the first time.
“This was a special season for us,” coach Owen Flannery said of his 16-6-3 squad. “The girls were dedicated and very hardworking from the very first practice.”
The Owls upset two higher-ranked teams – Fresno and Cosumnes River – on their way to the semis, where they lost 7-0 to defending state champ Cerritos.
Sophomore forward Brittany Squarcia, a Homestead High graduate, led Foothill with 18 goals and 10 assists this season.