Posted: Dec 03, 2016
By John M. Sherrard
(VENTURA) The Mt. SAC Men's Soccer team advanced to its seventh CCCAA State Championship game in the last eight years with a 5-4 win on penalty kicks over Taft College Friday afternoon at Ventura College in the state semifinals.
After a 0-0 tie in regulation and two scoreless 15-minute overtimes, the Mounties advanced to the title game Sunday at 10:00 am against Fresno City College, a 2-1 winner vs Oxnard.
With the win Mt. SAC improves to 18-2-3 while No. 2 North seed Taft finishes its season at 14-4-7.
"The team showed lots of grit (Saturday)," Mt. SAC soccer coach Juan Sanchez said. "We found a way to get the result in PKs."
With a go-ahead penalty kick by sophomore midfielder Juan Sanchez, followed by a game-winning save by freshman goal keeper Edwyn Gutierrez, the Mounties will be aiming for a fifth state title since 2009.
"I felt the teams positive energy and unity," said Sanchez of his game-winning PK. "I stayed calm and just visualized the penalty (kick) going in. "After scoring it I felt a relief and just knew the rest was going to fall into place."
In the penalty kicks both sophomore midfielder Axel Mendez and sophomore forward Martin Arrieta both connected for goals, along with both of the Cougar kickers for the 2-2.
Up next came sophomore defender Miguel Martinez whose low shot was stopped by Taft goalkeeper Rick Montoy.
After Taft scored to take a 3-2 lead, Mt. SAC sophomore forward Julio Velasquez scored in the top right side of the goal to tie it at, 3-3.
The tension began to mount as Taft took a 4-3 lead on a goal in the top-left side of the net past Gutierrez.
But sophomore forward Michael Flores calmly put the ball past Montoy on the lower right side for the 4-4 tie, setting up the exciting ending for the Mounties.
Montoy came out of the goal for Taft and shot a PK that completely missed the net, followed by Sanchez' goal that gave the Mounties the lead and Gutierrez' diving stop to his left sent the Mounties into a frenzy and into the state championship game.
The PK victory was the second time in three years that No. 1 ranked Mt. SAC has advanced to the championship game by that result. In 2014, the Mounties defeated De Anza on PKs to advance to the championship game.
The Mounties, playing in their tenth consecutive final four state playoffs, also defeated Taft in 2009 on their way to their first state title.
With great defense and many missed opportunities by both teams in the first half, much the same took place throughout the rest of the contest.
In the 81st minute Sanchez had perhaps the best opportunity to score as he dribbled the ball in but the Taft defense cleared the ball away.
Just a few minutes later in the 86th minute freshman midfielder Jonathon Hernandez had a scoring opportunity but was knocked away by the Taft Keeper again.
Gutierrez, who is third in the state in goals against (0.66) and fourth in save percentage (.853), made a huge stop just a minute later, followed by a shot by freshman midfielder Victor Aguirre before extra time expired.
CCCAA State Soccer Championships will be held at:
Ventura College Sportsplex
Tickets are available for purchase at the gate and are:
$12 - Adults (general admission)
$8 - Identified student, faculty, staff, senior citizens (60+)
and children 12 and under (general admission)
Follow Mt. SAC Soccer on Twitter @MtSAC_MSoccer
Follow Mt. SAC Athletics on Twitter @MtSAC_athletics or Facebook @Mountie.Athletics