Los Angeles Soccer: Dominic Picon

PREPS: El Rancho won't take CIF soccer title for granted

March, 6, 2011

Dominic Picon was in his second season of coaching when he guided El Rancho High School to its first CIF Southern Section boys soccer title eight years ago. That was easy, he thought.

Not this time.

The second-seeded Dons (23-2-2), from Pico Rivera, captured their second championship Saturday afternoon, outlasting Oak Hills of Hesperia in a scintillating Division 4 final, and Picon recognized the accomplishment in ways he couldn't in 2003.

"I took it for granted when we were here the first time ...," Picon said after junior forward Francisco Lara netted two goals and sophomore midfielder Cristian Roldan set up a pair in a 4-2 triumph at Warren High School in Downey. "I was 27, and I thought this would happen all the time, and I didn't appreciate it. I can't even remember the game very much, or the pageantry surround it, so I told the kids just to enjoy [the day]."

El Rancho shared their first title, after a 0-0 draw with Kennedy of La Palma, but Lara made sure this one was the Dons' alone, scoring a superb goal to quickly answer Oak Hills' first-half equalizer, then netting the winner with an emphatic finish from a corner kick with 15 minutes to play.

"Pancho's a true No. 9," said Picon, using soccerese for "striker." "He's a poacher. That's what you look for in a No. 9. He came up big in the biggest game in his career so far. That's what we told the boys before the game: The biggest players always play at their best in the biggest games, and this is the biggest game these kids have played in."

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