LONG BEACH – Two breakaway goals off long crossing passes in extra time Friday gave the Taft College a 4-2 non-conference men's soccer victory over Long Beach City College.
The late heroics kept the twice-tied Cougars unbeaten at 5-0-2 heading into today's game at Oxnard College (4-1-1), ranked No. 8 in the state. The Cougars are 17th in the state but No. 12 on the national soccer coaches poll.
"I felt like it was slipping away from us," said Cougar head coach Angelo Cutrona before the late heroics. "We called attack mode, and I was very happy with the way we executed."
Midfielder Gerardo Gonzalez, a freshman from Wasco, took a long crossing pass from Roberto Mariscal on a breakaway and rifled a shot past Long Beach goalkeeper Jorge Becerra for what essentially was the game-winner.
The Cougar defense contained the Vikings last-ditch attack and got another breakaway pass from Juan Carlos Gonzalez that Jose Gonzalez shot past Becerra just seconds before the whistle blew.
Cutrona was pleased with the way his team came back after Long Beach scored two second half goals to pull into a tie.
"We were able to execute well despite tired legs late in the game," he said.
The Cougars had to finish without leading scorer Ramiro Barraza, who was injured during a hard collision with a Long Beach player. Barraza had two first-half goals.
They also were without the services of Trevon Demison, who had to sit out after drawing two yellow cards in the previous game.
"He's such a versatile player," Cutrona said. "He can play midfield and in the back. Against Long Beach I would have had him in the back to guard against back-door balls. Both of Long Beach's goals were back-door."
In addition to his crucial goal, Gerardo Gonzalez had an assist on Barraza's first goal – a header that came 17 minutes into the game.
Julio Lopez got the assist on Barraza's second goal – a breakaway in the 26th minute.
Cougar goalie Roberto Gonzalez had three saves.
Cutrona expects a tough game today on the coast.
"I haven't scouted Oxnard, but I know they have five or six really talented athletes," he said. "They have good size in the back where it counts. The key for us will be to stick to our game-plan."
In addition to the stunning finish, there was another unique aspect to the Long Beach game.
It was streamed live on the Internet – a first for a Cougar sports event.