Los Angeles Soccer: Mt. San Antonio College
Ontiveros (La Puente/Arroyo HS) conceded just 11 goals in 25 games with 11 shutouts, a 0.54 goals-against average and a 90.4 save percentage for the Mounties (22-0-3), who won the mythical national championship at the Division III (non-scholarship) level.
Defender Eric Flores (Pomona/Garey HS) joins Ontiveros on the first team, and forward Luis Fuentes (Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista HS) is a second-team D3 All-America selection. Two more Mounties -- forward Javier Castro (Pomona/International Poly HS) and midfielder Edgar Padilla (Baldwin Park/Baldwin Park HS) -- receive All-West Region honors.
Mt. SAC coach Juan Sanchez is the Division III South Region's Coach of the Year.
In all, five local men and three women are JC All-Americans, and 10 men and eight women receive all-region awards. All are listed below:
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.”
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.”
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.
CYPRESS -- Cypress College had lost three women's soccer games in the same season only three times in 20 years -- more just once -- and this team did so in its first seven games.
If the Chargers were going to get back to the state final four, a birthright not so long ago, this wasn't going to be the team to do it.
But then a late-maturing side found some leadership, a top forward ended a self-imposed exile, and a big win over the unbeaten archrival bred needed confidence, and Cypress, among the most storied programs in California junior college soccer, went on the kind of run it's known for.
It's led where the Chargers (14-4-5) believe they belong, among the final quartet at this weekend's state championships in Sacramento. It has been five years since they last got this far after doing so for 12 straight years, winning titles in 1998, 1999 and 2004.
And here's a real kicker: They didn't lose a postseason game the whole time.
Mt. San Antonio College will again have a chance to defend its state championship, but getting there took longer than expected.
The Mounties (20-0-3), winners of the past two state community college men's soccer champions, needed 5½ hours Saturday to pull out a 2-0 triumph over visiting Oxnard (15-2-6) in a Southern California Regional final and claim a spot in their fifth straight California final four.
The game, which began at 2 p.m., was delayed for nearly four hours after a nearby gas leak forced an evacuation on the Mt. SAC campus in Walnut.
Javier Castro (Pomona/International Poly HS) scored early for Mt. SAC, the nation's No. 1-ranked non-scholarship JC team, and Luis Fuentes (Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista HS) netted his 19th of the season after the break.
The game was halted in the 38th minute, with Mt. SAC ahead, 1-0, when a Mt. SAC equipment manager accidentally drove a campus cart into an “old gas tank” adjacent to the soccer field, Mounties coach Juan Sanchez said. The area was cleared, the gas company summoned, the torn line repaired, and play started anew at about 6:15. The game ended a little before 7:30.
“It was one of those weird games,” Sanchez said. “They were all over us just before it happened -- they had just hit the post and were attacking us. ... We wanted to finish it [Saturday], because if we had to play later, we'd have to start over, and we would have lost our advantage.”
Mt. SAC will face City College of San Francisco (19-4-2), a 3-0 winner at Los Altos Hills-based Foothill, in a state semifinal Friday afternoon at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento.
In other men's action:
- Duran Stanley and Rodrigo Perez scored overtime goals to lift Santa Barbara City College (18-1-4) to a 2-0 victory over visiting Golden West (13-6-4), from Huntington Beach. The Vaqueros will face Hartnell (18-2-3), from Salinas, in Friday's semifinals.
CYPRESS -- Michelle Mendez came off the bench at the end of overtime and made two saves in the penalty-kick shootout to lead Cypress College back to the state final four after a four-year absence.
No. 1 Cerritos College and No. 2 Santa Barbara City College were upset in the first round of the state community college women's soccer playoffs.
On Tuesday, it was No. 3 Ventura's turn.
Another series of upsets has the Nos. 11 (Cypress), 15 (San Bernardino Valley) and 16 (Orange Coast) seeds playing Saturday for berths in the Dec. 2-4 state finals in Sacramento.
Jacqueline Lara (Buena Park/Valley Christian HS) scored a hat trick to lead Cypress (14-4-4) in a 4-0 rout of Ventura (18-4-0).
“This year's a weird year,” Ventura coach Steve Hoffman told the Ventura County Star. “I think you have to say Cypress is way better than their record says. I think they'll go to the state title game.”
The Chargers, who have won three state championships, the last seven years ago, will be home in one regional final against defending state champion San Bernardino Valley (14-5-4). The Wolverines won, 2-1, at College of the Canyons (14-4-3) as Mariela Ortega (Desert Hot Springs/Desert Hot Springs HS) and Milan Galloway (Rialto/Carter HS) scored in the first six minutes of the second half.
The other semifinal will match Cypress' Orange Empire Conference rivals Santiago Canyon (20-1-1), from Orange, and Orange Coast (14-4-4), from Costa Mesa. Santiago Canyon won the first meeting, 3-1; the second was a 1-1 tie.
Mt. San Antonio College's men are aiming for a third successive state community college soccer championship. Cerritos College's women are looking for their first title since back-to-back triumphs in 2007 and 2008.
They're the favorites, both ranked No. 1 in the nation -- and seeded first for the Southern California Regional playoffs, which kick off Saturday.
Mt. San Antonio (18-0-3), from Walnut, has a bye into a second-round game Tuesday, against San Diego City or Chaffey (Rancho Cucamonga). Cerritos (20-1-0), from Norwalk, opens Saturday against Orange Coast (Costa Mesa).
Cerritos' men (17-2-2), ranked third nationally, are seeded second in the South and also have a first-round bye. The winners of the four SoCal brackets -- two for men, two for women -- will join Northern California's winners at the Dec. 2-4 championships in Sacramento.
The Mounties, on a 34-game unbeaten streak, are led by Luis Fuentes (Azusa/Sierra Vista HS), who has 18 goals and 11 assists. Fuentes scored a hat trick in the 4-0 romp over College of the Canyons in last year's state title game, the seventh in eight years captured by Southern California schools.
Mt. SAC beat Cerritos in both regular-season meetings, 4-1 and 3-0.
Santa Barbara City (15-1-4) is seeded third and Oxnard (13-1-6) is No. 4.
Freshman Lauren Nanez (La Mirada/La Mirada HS) has 21 goals and 16 assists for Cerritos' women, who won their first 20 games, then fell Friday in their regular-season finale, a 1-0 decision against defending state champion San Bernardino Valley, which is seeded 15th.
Santa Barbara City (16-2-0), Ventura (17-3-0) and Santiago Canyon (18-1-1, from Orange) were seeded second through fourth.
The hottest team in So Cal college soccer?
Lots of options, in D1 (UCLA's men, Pepperdine's women), D2 (Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State L.A., both genders), D3 (Redlands' men, Cal Lutheran's women), NAIA (Concordia's men) -- even schools not affiliated with anyone (Anaheim's Bethesda Christian, at 12-1-0).
Let's also consider Cal State Northridge. Both of the Matadors' sides found their best soccer as conference play began.
CSUN's men have been outstanding since a one-win-in-six-games stretch had them 2-4-1 following a 1-0 loss Sept. 23 against powerful SMU. They've won five of six since, all by shutout, and sit second in the Big West Conference with a 3-1-0 mark heading into Saturday night's home game against UC Davis.
CSUN's women won just once in their first seven games, but they've been solid since, going 3-2-1 since Sept. 23 -- and one of those losses was in overtime against Portland. The Matadors are second in the Big West at 2-1-1 and are home Friday night against conference leader Long Beach State.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Spaniard Victor Muñoz sure makes the most of his time. The sophomore midfielder scored a goal with two assists in just 39 minutes last weekend, leading UCLA to wins at Washington at Oregon State. He did his greatest damage in just 18 minutes against the Beavers, setting up Kelyn Rowe's first-half equalizer, then scoring the winner with 30 seconds to go in regulation.
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.”
Celina Baguiao/College of the Canyons athletics
Coach Phil Marcellin started the College of the Canyons' women's program in 1998 and the men's team in 2003.
SANTA CLARITA -- A 1-16-6 campaign had been followed by a 4-16-3 season, and College of the Canyons men's soccer coach Philip Marcellin and his staff sat in their home stadium and watched Cerritos College capture and celebrate the 2008 state junior college championship.
It left them with a most sour taste -- and a resolution.
“We said: We're not hosting [the state final four] again,” Marcellin said, “without making every effort we can to get in it.”
Jump forward two years. The state finals have returned to Canyons, and Marcellin's Cougars are on the cusp of history.
Riding an 11-game winning streak and improbable, or so it seemed, romps over state powers Santa Ana and Fresno City, they've made it to their first state title game and will take on reigning California champion Mt. San Antonio, from Walnut, Sunday morning at 10.
It is, Marcellin notes, “a dream matchup: Home field, defending state champs. … Whatever side we end up on, I don't think we can ask for anything more than that.”
Mt. SAC, the top seed in Southern California, overcame West Valley, 2-1, Friday in Santa Clarita on an 88th-minute penalty kick to reach the final for the third successive season. The defending champ will take on host Canyons, a 3-0 winner over Fresno City College -- Northern California's top team -- in Sunday morning's championship game.
Their link goes far deeper than that.
Sanchez was a midfield creator and Gonzalez a backline anchor for Cal State L.A.'s men's team in the early 1990s -- a breeding ground, it turns out, for outstanding coaches.
They're among several Golden Eagles from the era, all prodigies of former Mexican national-teamer Leo Cuellar, who have gone on to guide title-winning teams, and the jobs they've done this year -- no matter what occurs this weekend -- have been among their best.
Sanchez returned just five players from last year's champions for what was supposed to be a "restructuring" campaign. His Mounties are 17-1-4, ranked second in the state and fourth in the nation, and one victory -- Friday morning at 10 against Northern California's West Valley College (16-4-2) -- from an opportunity to defend their title on Sunday.
Gonzalez's Falcons (22-1-2) have more experience but are somewhat of an underdog, forced to knock off the nation's Nos. 1 and 3 teams to reach the final four. They're no favorite at Canyons, either: NorCal powerhouse Santa Rosa (17-0-5), the state's lone unbeaten side, is their foe in Friday's 4 p.m. semifinal.
The other games: Canyons (16-5-2) vs. Fresno City (15-4-3) in a men's semi at 1 p.m., and San Bernardino Valley (17-1-3) vs. Fresno City (19-2-2) in a women's clash at 7 p.m.
Cerritos College is heading to the state JC women's soccer final four for the third time in four years after ousting top-seeded L.A. Pierce on Saturday in Woodland Hills.Miranda Madrid (Lakewood/St. Joseph HS) set up goals by Daniela Martin (La Puente/La Puente HS) in the 22nd minute and Liliana Leos (Sylmar/South East HS) in the 26th to lead the Falcons (21-1-2), who won state titles in 2007 and 2008, to a 2-1 victory.
Third-seeded San Bernardino Valley (18-1-4) also advanced to next weekend's state finals at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, scoring three times in the first half en route to a 4-2 victory at No. 2 seed Ventura (17-3-2). Cerritos will face Santa Rosa (17-0-5), Northern California's top seed, and SBVC will take on Fresno City (19-2-2) in Friday's semifinals.
Defending champion Mt. San Antonio and Canyons advanced to the men's final four. The Mounties (17-1-4), the state's top-ranked team, routed San Diego City, 3-0, and will face West Valley (16-4-2) in the semis. Canyons (16-5-2) scored a 3-1 upset of second-seeded Santa Ana (15-4-4) and will meet Fresno City (15-4-3), NorCal's No. 1 seed.
The state junior college brackets are out, and here's a group of death for you: L.A. Pierce (19-0-2), Cerritos (18-1-2) and Santiago Canyon (18-1-1). They're competing for one slot at the Dec. 3-5 final four at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.
Pierce, from Woodland Hills, is the top women's seed in the Southern California. Cerritos, the No. 4 seed from Norwalk, won state titles in 2007 and 2008.
Defending state champ Santiago Canyon, from Orange, has been No. 1 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division III (non-scholarship) poll since preseason, but a loss Nov. 9 to sixth-seeded Cypress (17-1-3) knocked it down to a fifth seed.
Second-seeded Ventura (15-3-2) and third-seeded San Bernardino Valley (16-1-3) join Cypress in the other So Cal bracket. Two teams from the South and two from NorCal advance to the final four. First round games are Saturday.
In the So Cal men's brackets, top-seeded Mt. San Antonio (15-1-4), from Walnut, and second-seeded Santa Ana (14-3-4) have first-round byes.