TC mens soccer team in state semifinals for 7th time after beating Hartnell
Will the seventh trip to the state community college soccer championships be a lucky omen for the Taft College men’s team?
No. 3 northern California seed Taft earned one of four spots in the finals, to be held Friday and Sunday at American River College in Sacramento, with a 2-0 overtime decision over No. 2 Hartnell in Salinas on Saturday.
The Cougars beat No. 6 Skyline 3-0 last Tuesday after opening the playoffs with a 3-2 victory over No. 14 Lassen on Nov. 18.
In the state championships the two best from the north – No. 1 Fresno and No. 2 Taft (Central Valley Conference co-champs who tied twice in the regular season) against the top two in the south: No. 1 Cerritos and No. 2 Mt. San Antonio.
All are familiar to the Final Four.
Fresno and Taft were No. 1 and No. 2 in the north last year with the Cougars losing on penalty kicks to Mt. SAC and Fresno beating Oxnard only to lose to the crown to the Mounties.
The Cougars (17-4-3) will open the championships Friday at 10 a.m. against top SoCal seed Cerritos (18-0-6) with Fresno (16-1-6) taking on Mt. SAC (17-4-3) at 4 p.m. The survivors will meet at 10 a.m. Sunday to see who takes home all the marbles.
TC 2, Hartnell 0
Neither team scored in regulation (90 minutes), sending them into two 15-minute overtime periods. The Cougars scored a goal in each OT. Leading scorer Hugo Magana took a pass from Gilbert Cervantes to end the scoring drought in the 105th minute. With a minute and a half left in the second overtime Marcos Moreno drove home the clincher off a pass from Alan Perez.
TC defenders allowed Hartnell but a single shot on goal –and that came in the waning moments – although the Panthers held a 12-5 advantage in total shots and 3-2 edge in corner kicks.
Of TC’s five shots four were shots on goal, two saved by Panther goalkeeper Jesus Para. Cougar keeper Brandon Garcia rejected Hartnell’s lone shot on goal.
TC 3, Skyline 0
The Cougars controlled the tempo at the outset and got the only goal they would need in the 19th minute when Miguel Coronado drove home a header off a corner kick from Alan Perez. It was the only goal of the half.
Eight minutes into the second half Rolan Gonzalo rifled a penalty kick low and to the right past the Trojan keeper for a 2-0 lead, and Perez scored the final goal on a breakaway in the 76th minute after taking a short pass from Magana.
Things got rough after that, and the match ended on an ugly note with Trojan head coach Gabe Saucedo ejected in the 86th minute and a Skyline player red carded a short time later.
Notes: SoCal teams have dominated the state championships, led in the past decade by Mt. SAC and Cerritos. The Mounties have won five, beating TC 2-1 for the 2009 title that ignited a four-year streak and then last year by beating the Cougars and then Fresno, both on penalty kicks. Cerritos won in 2006 and 2008, sandwiched around Taft’s lone title (2007) before winning three years ago. In the last 14 seasons the south has won all but two titles, TC and Hartnell the lone northern winners. North teams have won just 10 titles since 1975. . . Cougar cubs. TC is a very young team. Eight of the starting 11 are freshmen. The roster has 20 rookies and just 4 sophomores. Also, eight of the starters are from Kern County. Kern schools represented include Cesar Chavez, Golden Valley, Rosamond, Bakersfield, McFarland, Arvin, Centennial and Liberty. . . By way of contrast, Lassen College – TC’s first playoff victim – had no players from anywhere near the campus. The closest is from Los Angeles and next closest from Brunswick, GA. Fourteen are from the United Kingdom, 7 from Brazil, 2 each from Tanzania and Ireland, and 1 each from the Netherlands and Japan. But the coach is from Texas.