(Walnut, CA) For the twelth time in the last thirteen years, the Mt. SAC Men's Soccer Team has advanced to the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championships, with a hard-fought, 1-0 victory over visiting El Camino College on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 30).
With the third round SoCal Final victory, Mt. SAC (21-0-3) remains the only undefeated team in the state and will advance as the No. 1 South seed and will play No. 2 North Seed Foothill (15-1-5) on Friday (Dec. 6) at De Anza College. Game time is 10:00 am.
Foothill upset North No. 1 seed Santa Rosa, 2-1, to advance to the state championship semi-final. The other two teams in the final four state tournament are South No. 2 seed Cerritos (17-2-4) and North No. 1 seed Fresno City College (15-1-7).
The championship game will take place on Sunday (Dec. 8) at 1:30 pm, at De Anza College.
"Getting back to state is always a difficult process and not easy to achieve," Mt. SAC Men's Soccer Head Coach Juan Sanchez replied. "The team showed mental focus in the playoff games and we are excited to be back."
Last year was the first time since the 2006 season that Mt. SAC wasn't in the state playoffs.
The lone goal of the game was scored by Mt. SAC sophomore forward Angel Santoyo in the 26th minute. In a tough defensive battle by both teams, the Mounties made it stand up for the win.
The winning goal came after a cross by Cazares, that just grazed the head of the El Camino defender and right to Santoyo. Santoyo then headed the ball into the right corner of the net to take the 1-0 lead.
"We were really lacking defensive pressure in the last game and slipped up a little bit and (Saturday) I'm glad to see that zero on the scoreboard," Santoyo said.
"We know our defensive pressure is going to make a lot of teams crack open in their midfield. We exploited that and Jerry (Cazares) is phenomenal on the ball and somehow created a cross. I don't know how he did it, but luckily I got a flick off of the back of the defenders head and I put (the ball) right over the keepers' fingers. I'm happy I was there in the right spot. Easy go to making."
Santoyo, who didn't play last year but was watching the loss in the So Cal final last year, remembers the feeling for the team.
"I wasn't part of the team last year and I know the feeling and also lost in 2017 in the state semifinals. We want to go all the way this year."
Mt. SAC put the pressure on the Warriors early and often, but the El Camino keeper kept the Mounties off of the scoreboard.
On the other end of the field, Mt. SAC was led by the supreme defensive play by sophomore Jacob Sowder.
"Jake (Sowder) had a good game defensively, staying aggressive and making things happen defensively," Sanchez added.
There are no stats on his defensive stops, but the Yorba Linda High School product swatted, kicked and blocked numerous balls that were headed into the net.
"Defense is so important to the whole team and they just stepped up (Saturday)," Sowder said. "Fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time.
"We made sure that defensively we showed up and stayed calm and composed."
Sowder was also a part of the 2018 disappointment and knew the team had a bigger goal this season.
"It's been a big goal, especially after last year. We are all super excited to get to state and win the title," Sowder added.
In an offensive flurry by El Camino in the 14th min, Sowder single-handedly swatted three El Camino attempts aside.
"Fortunately for me, I was inside (the goal) and able to get a foot on it," said Sowder, of one of his stops in the net.
Not until the 26th minute did the Mounties break through with the score. In the final seven minutes of the half, Sowder made two defensive stops. In the 42nd minute of the half, Hernandez stopped a shot from a tough angle.
The second half was more of the same as both defenses kept each team from establishing good shot attempts. Midway through the second half, Mt. SAC midfielders Paul Iniguez and Anthony Vargas both had goal-scoring opportunities.
Goalkeeper Alain Hernandez, who is in the top six in the state with wins, picked up his 11th win of the season for the Mounties.
"The defensive play by the guys at midfield was a big reason why we were able to get in position to score," Sanchez said.
Follow Mt. SAC Men's Soccer on twitter @MtSAC_MSoccer
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.