Taft College’s men’s soccer team showed signs of returning to form Tuesday afternoon when the Cougars scored a 3-1 victory over visiting College of the Canyons to even their early-season record to 2-2.
The Cougars spotted Canyons an early goal, tied the score in the waning moments of the first half and then completely outplayed the visitors in the second half.
The effort – especially the way the team played in the second half – brought a big dose of relief to head coach Angelo Cutrona, who was a bit worried over the uncharacteristically slow start.
“It’s still taking us too long to get into the game,” he said, “but we were much better in the second half. We controlled the second half very well. That was nice to see.”
Cutrona is hoping the solid win over Canyons will give the team a lift heading into tonight’s game against Southwestern in the Mt. San Antonio tournament.
At least he’s looking forward to some cooler playing weather.
“We haven’t had a single practice so far this season that has been cool,” he said. “The prolonged heat is starting to become a factor.”
The team’s other win came under the lights last week at Santa Barbara City College.
After playing Southwestern tonight, the Cougars will take on City College of San Francisco, last year’s state runner-up and a perennial northern California powerhouse.
Sophomore midfielder Brandon Davy gave Canyons the early lead in the 31st minute when he knocked in a ricochet off a free kick that was drilled into a pack of players in front of the Cougar net.
Gerardo Gonzalez, a sophomore midfielder from Wasco, got the Cougars even as time was running out in the first half when he broke free on the right side, took a pass from Brandon Frazier and lined a shot into the left corner of the goal.
That goal put some spark into the Cougars after a slow first half.
Six minutes into the second half freshman midfielder Oscar Torres squirmed free for a clear shot on a pass from Anthony Ulloa to give the Cougars a lead they would never relinquish.
With 10 minutes left Uriel Lopez, a freshman midfielder out of Shafter, clinched it with a nice header from about 20 yards out that sailed over the head of the Canyons keeper. Oscar Barrientos got the assist.
Cutrona was impressed with the work of goalkeeper J.D. Cisneros, who just joined the team after red-shirting last year.
Page 2 of 2 - “We put J.D. in goal and he was very solid for us. I thought he did a great job.”
Mt. SAC skirmish nixed
The Cougars were scheduled to host defending state champion Mt. San Antonio a week from today but a mix-up spoiled it.
“A condition of us playing in their tournament was having them play us here on the 20th,” Cutrona said, “but their coach double-booked the date. He said we only confirmed for the tournament but not the game up here, but that’s not the way he sold it to me.”
Cutrona said he was looking forward to a rematch after the Mounties eliminated the Cougars from the final four last year with a 2-1 decision in the semi-finals. The finals were played at Mt. SAC.
“Even just to compete against those guys is always a good thing.”
But it won’t happen unless the teams meet in the playoffs.
Mt. SAC defeated Taft for the state title in 2009 and then ran off three more championships.
The Cougars beat the Mounties on penalty kicks in the 2007 state semi-finals en route to winning TC’s only state crown.
TC will play Cerritos on Sept. 24 in Taft. Cerritos knocked off the Cougars in the 2006 state championship game.