Los Angeles Soccer: Randi Martinez
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.