SANTA CLARITA -- There was no stopping Luis Fuentes on Sunday, and so Mt. San Antonio College is celebrating its second successive state junior college men's championship.
Fuentes (Azusa/Sierra Vista HS) scored a hat trick as the Mounties (19-1-4) defeated host College of the Canyons, 4-0, in an all-Southern California affair that was more lopsided than the score suggests.
Mt. SAC took the lead in a tight game on Fuentes' 25th-minute penalty kick -- Michael Chavez (Riverside/Arlington HS) drew the foul from Jose Reyes (Sylmar/Sylmar HS) -- and then took command, dominating midfield primarily through Adrian Padilla (West Covina/West Covina HS) and applying heavy pressure on Canyons' defense the rest of the way.
Fuentes, who set up both Mounties goals in Friday's semifinal win over West Valley, struck again in the 54th and 70th minutes, and Cal Poly Pomona transfer Javier Castro (Pomona/I Poly HS) added the fourth in the 78th.
Fuentes, a freshman whose speed on the flanks played havoc on Canyons' back line, called winning -- and with three goals, no less -- “one of my dreams come true,” and coach Juan Sanchez said he “enjoyed this one more than last year, because I didn't know how to react [last year], and this year this group of players was just great.”
Canyons had the better chances before the penalty kick, but they were out shot, 17-2, in the second half (24-7 for the game) -- and didn't get off their first of the half until it was 4-0 and they were down to 10 men following red cards, in the 73rd and 77th minutes, to Jesus Salazar (Palmdale/Knight HS) and Victor Rodriguez (Woodland Hills/Taft HS). The Cougars finished with nine men after Reyes' 88th-minute expulsion, and referee Ian Anderson blew the final whistle 30 seconds before stoppage because things were getting so chippy.
“I think the officiating hurt us today,” said Canyons coach Philip Marcellin, whose team's attempt to raise the stakes physically against the more technically gifted Mounties was quashed by Anderson, who called things fairly tight. “We had a certain style of play, and the way he managed the match didn't suit our style of play. It's unfortunate, and we end up on the wrong side of a lopsided score.
“But you know what? This is going to sound funny, but I couldn't ask for a better thing, because this is what we need. It's the motivation we need. We've got a young team for the most part. My attitude is this is just the beginning, instead of a downer moment. But I'm not going to lie. It hurts.”