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Men’s Soccer Set to host annual Nike/Azteca Soccer Tournament

2021 Mt. SAC Men's Soccer before scrimmage
Photo Courtesy of DavesSportsImage

(Walnut, CA) With the Mt. SAC Men's Soccer season finally underway after a year off because of the pandemic, the Mounties are off and running with a five-goal outburst against Mira Costa in their opening game.

The 2021 season continues this weekend with the annual Nike/Azteca/Mt. SAC Tournament.

The Mounties open with West Valley Friday night and will conclude the tournament on Sunday evening with Richland College of Dallas, Texas.

Richland (1-0-1) is currently ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA DIII rankings and is the three-time defending National Champion.

Richland has won nine national titles overall.

Also in the tournament are Santa Ana, Lake Tahoe and Fullerton.

The last time Mt. SAC played a game before this season was in the CCCAA State Championship final in 2019. The Mounties, who have won five state titles overall, fell in the title game.

With the winning formula that Mt. SAC coach Juan Sanchez has molded through his 20 years in the program, the 2021 roster looks to be following that trend.

The inactivity for the last year took a toll on all athletes and coaches.

"It's been more downs than ups and makes you grateful just being out there, hungrier than ever," Sanchez said. "It wasn't fun sitting out that long."

As for the team, a few holdovers are going to lead the Mounties.

Sophomores Jason Garcia and Anthony Vargas, who logged a lot of minutes in 2019, along with Brandon Pineda and Paul Iniguez are expected to lead the team.

With top goalie Alain Hernandez gone, Sanchez has three freshmen keepers contending for playing time – Jacob Cardenas, Ian Johanson and Ryan Molina. Contreras, who's coming in to challenge for the No. 1 spot, has played for the L.A. Galaxy Youth Academy.

Both Cardenas, who earned the win over Mira Costa, and Johanson, saw action in the opening game.

Molina started in the scrimmage game against Cal Poly Pomona prior to the regular season and as Sanchez said after his performance, "……he turned a two keeper contest into a three keeper contest."

Sanchez, who is also a co-head coach with Rachel Schmid of the Mt. SAC Women's team, knows of the importance of bringing a winning feeling to a program.

"The way I see it, you have to have the passion, especially the responsibility of both programs," Sanchez said. "It was a reflection of the 2019 season. When you put out that championship and passion out there, you feel it."

Follow Mt. SAC Men's Soccer on Twitter @MtSAC_MSoccer or Instagram @mtsacmenssoccer

Follow Mt. SAC Athletics on Twitter @MtSAC_athletics or Facebook @Mountie.Athletics

For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.