Los Angeles Soccer: Ruben Gonzalez
Araceli Sanchez set up a first-half goal, then delivered a death blow with 15 minutes to go as SBVC (19-1-3) reached its first state final with a 2-0 triumph over Fresno City College (19-3-2) at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.
Cerritos (21-2-2) applied heavy pressure throughout the second half but couldn't find the net, falling, 1-0, to Santa Rosa (18-0-5), Northern California's No. 1 team.
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 might be seeking a fourth straight women's state title had it brought its best game to Santiago Canyon a year ago. The Falcons fell, 1-0, in Southern California Regional second-rounder, ending their bid for a third successive title.
Their path to a third crown in four years remains intact following Tuesday's 1-0 overtime triumph over Santiago Canyon. Justine Telles' goal in the 97th minute lifted fourth-seeded Cerritos (20-1-2), which will advance to the Dec. 3-5 state final four (at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita) with a victory Saturday at So Cal top seed L.A. Pierce (21-0-2).
Santiago Canyon (19-2-1), from Orange, lost to Cerritos in the 2007 state final, but last year's win prodded the Hawks to their first state title. They weathered plenty in Tuesday's regional second-round clash, with the dominant Falcons twice hitting the crossbar -- through Tatiana Cortes (La Mirada/La Mirada HS) and Liliana Leos (Sylmar/South East HS), both in the second half -- but succumbed to an overtime error.
Telles (Santa Fe Springs/St. Paul HS) curled in a corner kick from the left flank, and Santiago Canyon goalkeeper Angie Orozco (Irvine/Irvine HS) misplayed it into her net.
“They're all big, especially in the playoffs,” Cerritos coach Ruben Gonzalez said, “but Santiago's a well-coached team. We've battled before. Last year they got us, 1-0, and before that, we beat them in the state championship. It's always good to see two top teams battle.
“We played with confidence. For the most part, we were the better team. We held possession, and at the end they made a mistake on the corner kick, but we had opportunities that we didn't put away, and maybe we should have.”
The Falcons will be without Cortes against Pierce. She and Santiago Canyon's Janelle Hanna (Orange/El Modena HS) were red-carded after an overtime altercation.
Other first-round heroes:
- Gilberto Castaneda (Anaheim/Savanna HS) headed home a cross by Edgar Islas (Santa Ana/Santa Ana HS) midway through the first half to lift second-seeded Santa Ana (15-3-4) past visiting Irvine Valley, 1-0. The Dons' last game, 11 days earlier, was a 6-1 rout of IVC to clinch their 17th straight Orange Empire Conference title.
- Victor Rodriguez (Woodland Hills/Taft HS) tallied twice to lead sixth-seeded College of the Canyons (15-5-2) past Cerritos, 2-1, handing the Falcon men their first loss on their 3-year-old field. Cerritos, the No. 3 seed, had been 27-0-6 on the Falcon Soccer Field.
- Top-seeded L.A. Pierce (21-0-2) romped in women's play, 3-0, over visiting El Camino as Daisy Alvarenga (Lake Balboa/Birmingham HS), Briana Behrad (Woodland Hills/Taft HS) and Jessica Gonzalez (Mission Hills/Alemany HS) scored goals.
- Ventura (17-3-2), the No. 2 women's seed, routed visiting Santa Barbara City, 3-0, on goals by Lindsey Armenta (Camarillo/Rio Mesa HS), Taylor Benton (Camarillo/Camarillo HS) and Hope Weber (Camarillo/Camarillo HS).
- SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONALS
Tuesday's games (Home teams listed first)
Mt. San Antonio 4, Oxnard 0
San Diego City 1, Santa Barbara City 0
Cerritos 1, College of the Canyons 2
Santa Ana 1, Irvine Valley 0
L.A. Pierce 3, El Camino 0
Cerritos 1, Santiago Canyon 0, OT
San Bernardino Valley 1, Cypress 1 (San Bernardino Valley advances on penalties, 9-8)
Ventura 3, Santa Barbara City 0
Saturday's games (times tentative)
College of the Canyons (15-5-2) at Santa Ana (15-3-4)
San Diego City (18-2-3) at Mt. San Antonio (16-1-4), 4 p.m.
Cerritos (20-1-2) at L.A. Pierce (21-0-2), 2 p.m.
San Bernardino Valley (17-1-4) at Ventura (17-3-2), 5:30 p.m.
- NORTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONALS
Santa Rosa (17-2-2) at Fresno City (14-4-3)
Evergreen Valley (19-1-3) at West Valley (15-4-2)
Cosumnes River (14-4-5) at Santa Rosa (16-0-5)
American River (18-4-0) at Fresno City (18-2-2)