Taft College

Andrew Vasquez scored his team-high tying 15th goal of the season, a shot from the edge of the penalty box just before halftime, as defending state champion Mt. San Antonio College punched its return ticket to the title game with a 1-0 win over Taft College on Friday morning in the first of two semifinal matches at the CCCAA Men's Soccer Championship at American River College. 

The win lifts the Mounties, the second seed from the SoCal region, to a 17-6-2 overall while the North's top seed, Taft, ended a spectacular season with a 17-3-3 record. 

Mt. SAC has won five state championships, including four in a row from 2009-12 as well as last year's banner on its home turf, while Taft was trying for its second title and its first since 2007. The Mounties will face the winner of Friday's second semifinal between Merced and Oxnard in Sunday's championship match at 3:30 p.m. It'll be streamed through www.cccaasports.org and www.BAOSN.tv.

Shot were hard to come by for most of the first half with both teams only picking up three over the first 44 minutes. But Vasquez made the only that mattered after that, taking a shot from the edge of the penalty box and depositing it into top shelf in the right corner of the goal at the 44:59 mark of the opening half. It was Mt. SAC's only shot on goal of the game.

The second half brought much of the same action as the first with both teams collecting a trio of shots but none of them found the back of the net. A trio of Taft shots over the final 13 minutes tried to even the score. Moises Cisneros had a strong try after a Mt. SAC foul just outside the box, but his free kick was right of the goal in the 82nd minute. Jacob Cardenas had his third and final save in the final minutes to help the Mounties preserve the win.

Mt. SAC outshot Taft, 8-7, and led in corner kicks, 4-2. Both teams collected three yellow cards. Vasquez's goal tied him with Alex Mendez for the Mounties' team lead.