Men’s Soccer Triumphant Season Closes On Top

Mounties bounced back from a conference disappointment to conquer the state championship

Edward Castro (11) avoids numerous attempts to steal possession and moves the ball upfield.

The Mountie’s men’s soccer team wrapped up their 2021 season with their sixth CCCAA State Championship title and a third place finish in the South Coast Conference Tournament.

They were also ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Rankings with a 19-2-2 season record.

The team only suffered two losses this season. The first was a 3-1 loss that happened early in the season during the Mt. SAC Nike/Azteca Tournament, where the Mounties played against the Dallas College Richland Thunderducks. The Thunderducks ended up as the No. 1 ranked team with an undefeated record this season.

The Mounties were handed their second loss of the season in a 2-0 upset by the Cerritos Falcons toward the end of the regular season.

The Mounties also had two ties this season. The first one was against the Pasadena City Lancers in a 0-0 draw.

The second tie was in a 2-2 draw against the Long Beach Vikings in the South Coast Conference Tournament. Although the Mounties held a 2-0 lead and a two-men advantage in this game, the Vikings fought back to tie this game at 2-2. Eventually, this tie led to a penalties shootout that ended up in a heartbreaking loss for the Mounties.

This did not deter the Mounties as they bounced back against El Camino Warriors in a 3-0 win and placed third in the South Coast Conference Tournament.

During the CCCAA State Regionals, the Mounties beat the Cypress Chargers convincingly in the first round 3-1.

The second round of regionals proved how determined the Mounties were to reach finals. They made two comebacks in the game. Down 0-1 in the first half, the Mounties equalized around the one-hour mark. When they fell behind again with just 15 minutes left in the game, the Mounties managed to score the tying goal with only minutes left to spare.

This game ended 2-2 in regulation which led to overtime. Coming in with the momentum of scoring the game-tying goal, the Mounties scored three more goals in extra time to win the game 5-2 and advance to the next round.

The men’s soccer team huddles for a cheer during their final match on Dec. 5. (Christie Yeung)

The Mounties defeated the Golden West Rustlers 2-0 in the third round to reach the semifinals, and they went on to win 2-1 against American River Hawkeyes to get to the final championship game.

The weather was perfect for the final match and the Mounties will not accept a less than perfect result to finish the season. The Hartnell Panthers were 20-2-3 this season, almost matching the Mounties’ own record.

Both teams put on excellent performances but only one would lift the trophy.

The Mounties struck first in the first half and led the majority of the game until the last 15 minutes of the game. The Panthers managed to sneak a goal through a tight angle close to the goal line on the right side of the field, which looked to push the game into overtime.

Yet once again, the relentless Mounties would not give up. It paid off and during stoppage time, they scored the match-winning goal to seal the game.

Men’s soccer storms the field in celebration after winning the championship game on Dec. 5. (Christie Yeung)

Besides winning the CCCAA State Championship this season, the coaching staff and players were also named in a few awards.

Mounties’ forward Edward Castro (11) who was named the MVP award of the CCCAA tournament, was also named Athlete of the Month in December by the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA).

He was the first men’s soccer player to be selected for this award and 16th overall from Mt. SAC. He scored 14 goals in 21 games, eight of them being game-winning goals.

Midfielder Gabriel Arredondo (8) and goalkeeper Jacob Cardenas (1) were both named Men’s 2nd Team All-American and 2nd Team All-West Region. Defender Andre Ramos (15) was named Men’s 1st Team All-American and 1st Team All-West Region.

On the coaching side, head coach Juan Sanchez along with assistant coaches Ray Ramirez, Mike Fernandez and Mauricio Barret was named Junior College Division III Southwest Region Staff of the Year.

It had been an exciting and emotional journey of Mounties’ men soccer this year. The team had battled through challenges during this pandemic and triumphed. With the majority of the players being freshmen this year, there should be another thrilling season ahead.