Los Angeles Soccer: Danny Amaya

No. 10: Mt. SAC's three-peat

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
3:30
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Counting down the 11 biggest 2011 stories in Southern California soccer ...

The best soccer team in Southern California? Relatively speaking, it might be Mt. San Antonio College's men, who claimed a third successive state community college crown while extending their unbeaten streak to 38 games.

Danny Amaya (Rialto/Marshall HS) scored on a scorching blast to the upper corner, off the top of the post, midway through the second half to give the Walnut-based Mounties (22-0-3) a 1-0 triumph over Hartnell, from Salinas, in the final earlier this month in Sacramento. Mt. SAC posted its 14th shutout and sixth in its last seven games.

“You know what? It's awesome,” said head coach Juan Sanchez, who has taken the Mounties to four straight state final fours. “It's kind of like a dream. To win the first one was very difficult, No. 2 was very hard, and now No. 3 is just -- there's no words that can describe the feelings.”

The Mounties lost to Cerritos in the 2008 state title game, beat Taft with an experienced group in 2009 and unexpectedly cruised to the title last year with a young squad. This year's title wasn't unanticipated.

Sanchez had 14 sophomores at his disposal, including goalkeeper Alfredo Ontiveros (La Puente/Arroyo HS), the NSCAA JC Division III (non-scholarship) Player of the Year, first-team All-America defender Eric Flores (Pomona/Garey HS) and second-team All-America forward Luis Fuentes (Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista HS), who led Mt. SAC with 20 goals for 14 in his two-year career.

Sanchez, who played under Leo Cuellar at Cal State L.A. and professionally in Mexico and in U.S. indoor leagues (including a stint in the mid-'90s with the Anaheim Splash), was the JC West Region Coach of the the Year for the third time and is a finalist for the national honor. The Mounties won the unofficial D3 national title by finishing first in the NSCAA's national poll.

“This group really became a tight-knit family,” Sanchez said. “You could see it in the beauty of the way they play, the way they're there for each other. It's just really nice to see this end for these guys the way it happened.”

JC: Mt. SAC's encore? Who cares

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
9:56
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How does Mt. San Antonio College top this?

Juan Sanchez doesn't know -- and doesn't care.

After guiding the Walnut-based Mounties (22-0-3) to their third successive state community college men's soccer title, Sanchez said there was no pressure to go for No. 4.

“You know what? There was no pressure for us to win three,” he said. “I never look at stats. I never look at those things, because to me, at the end of the day, that's when the pressure starts to build. Not once did I put that in my head.

“The fourth [try], we'll attack it the same way we attacked the last three years. I don't see there being any more pressure than there was three years ago [before we'd won our first.”

Sanchez expects five starters to return, including Danny Amaya (Rialto/Marshall HS), whose splendid strike Sunday in Sacramento delivered the 1-0 triumph over Hartnell, from Salinas, in the title game -- and extended Mt. SAC's unbeaten streak to 38 games. The Mounties are the top-ranked JC team in the nation.

Among those departing are Luis Fuentes (Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista HS), who scored 34 goals in two seasons, and Edgar Padilla (Baldwin Park/Baldwin Park HS) and Javier Castro (Pomona/International Poly HS), who combined this year for 20 goals and 14 assists.

“It's going to be a rebuilding year,” Sanchez said, “but what we've done, it's going to make it easy for us to recruit. We know the type of kids we want, the type of mental toughness they need to bring to handle these tough, tough games and these runs the last three years.

“It's a rebuilding year, just like last year, when we didn't expect to win it, and they showed maturity at the right time and peaked at the right time, and we were able to win [the state title] with a bunch of freshmen.”

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JC: Mt. SAC makes it three in a row

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
9:32
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Danny Amaya scored what his coach called “the most beautiful goal you could imagine,” and it brought Mt. San Antonio College riches well beyond what it ever imagined.

Amaya's goal midway through the second half Sunday afternoon delivered a third successive state community college men's soccer title to the Mounties (22-0-3), who extended their unbeaten streak to 38 games with a 1-0 triumph over Hartnell (19-3-3) in Sacramento.

Amaya tallied on a 25-yard blast to the upper-corner, in off the top of the post, and Mt. SAC, from Walnut, used solid play at the back to close out its 14th shutout of the season and sixth in the last seven games.

“You know what? It's awesome,” Juan Sanchez, who has guided the Mounties to four successive state final fours, told ESPN Los Angeles. “It's kind of like a dream. To win the first one was very difficult, No. 2 was very hard, and now No. 3 is just -- there's now words that can describe the feelings.”

The Mounties were favored from the season's start after returning several pivotal players from the group that beat College of the Canyons in last year's final. They're ranked No. 1 in the national polls, and that means something to them because California junior colleges aren't involved in the NJCAA national championships.

“Hopefully, we'll get the mythical national title,” Sanchez said. “That was one of our goals. Last year we won the state championship and finished third [in the national poll], and we want to get it this year.”

Mt. SAC had more possession in an otherwise even battle, repeatedly penetrating through Amaya (Rialto/Marshall HS) and top scorer Luis Fuentes (Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista HS). Hartnell, from Salinas, struck a post early in the second half and nearly netted an equalizer, by Max Estrada, in the final moments.

WOMEN: Santiago Canyon falls in OT

Cara Curtin scored four times to lead Santa Rosa Junior College in a cat-and-mouse women's final in Sacramento, netting the decisive goal with 30 seconds to go in overtime for a 4-3 triumph over Santiago Canyon.

The Bear Cubs (20-1-3), who had lost in three previous state title games, had rallied on a late Curtin penalty kick to force overtime but saw Santiago Canyon, from Orange, overcome one deficit in overtime.

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