FRESNO — The Cabrillo College men’s soccer team’s stellar season ended with a 3-0 loss to powerful Santa Ana on Saturday in a state junior college semifinal at Fresno Pacific University.
The Seahawks (19-3-2), facing a David and Goliath situation against the defending state and NSCAA national champions, were down just 1-0 at halftime. The Dons (22-2-1), No. 4 in the NSCAA/adidas National Rankings, then scored twice in the second half to put the game away.
"We lost to a great team," Cabrillo first-year men’s coach Paolo Carbone said. "For Santa Ana, it’s a tradition to be here. For my team, it was an accomplishment to be here. Now they have seen what the next level looks like. We can get there, too."
Santa Ana went on to face Santa Rosa (23-0-0), a 3-2 double-overtime winner over Rio Hondo (18-7-3) in the other semifinal, in Sunday’s championship game. The result of the final was not available by press time.
It was a storybook season for Cabrillo. The Seahawks, featuring mostly local players, won the Coast Conference South title for the first time and closed the season ranked 20th in the nation.
Santa Ana, meanwhile, has seven foreign players on its roster, and those players made a big impact in the semifinal.
South Korean forward Sung Park put Santa Ana up 1-0 in the 12th minute and a pair of Mexican players hit the net in the second half. Abraham Cruz buried a shot near the post in the 53rd minute, then Alejandro Torres, after juking several defenders on a run to the middle from the sideline, placed a perfect shot away from the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Jaxon Roberts in the 62nd minute.
"We knew they had international players and we were ready for them," Carbone said. "We played with them in the first half. It wasn’t until the second half when they wore us down by spreading the field that we lost composure and allowed the two goals."
"We have mostly a Santa Cruz County team with a few outside players," Cabrillo offensive captain Omar Tostado said. "We worked hard to get here — none of us will walk away with our heads down. They have a lot of area to get players from and have a lot of foreign players too, but we put together what we had and made ourselves proud of what we accomplished this season. It had to end, but we know someday we can do more."
Santa Ana showed experience, holding its positions well on the field and using touch passes to keep the Seahawks running while using crossing balls to spread the field.
Cabrillo frequently had to double-team the Dons’ speedy, skillful forwards, leaving gaps around the goal. The Dons attempted to exploit those gaps, but Cabrillo’s defense left every ounce of sweat, pride and determination on the field keeping the noticeably superior team to just three goals.
"What can you say? We played crazy at times just trying to keep them out on defense," Cabrillo’s Rolando Rodriguez said. "They are good, but we could have played a better game."
"They made us run, that’s for sure," teammate Juan Marquez added. "It’s definitely the best team we faced all year, but we held our own."
Santa Ana, which won the Orange Empire Conference, has six All-Americans on its roster and was seeded No. 1 in Southern California. The Dons were ranked first in the state in scoring with 107 goals, compared to Cabrillo’s 54 goals, which was good enough for 11th in the state. Ivan Campos (10 goals, eight assists) and Armando Martinez (eight goals, 12 assists) led the Seahawks in scoring this season.
"We knew they could play, but it’s still a game and the rest is just hype," Martinez said. "We didn’t see that much difference in them as individuals, but as a team they had a lot of experience on the field. We thought for sure after the first half, holding them to one goal, that we could tie it up. We put everything we had into the first few minutes of the second half and almost scored. It showed them we could also play. When they scored the second goal we still didn’t give up."
Santa Ana freshman goalkeeper Cesar Aceves helped thwart three Cabrillo attacks early in the second half and finished with seven saves for the shutout.
Roberts recorded 11 saves, eight in the first half, while trying to keep Cabrillo in contention.
"They had a powerful, experienced team," Roberts said. "They bring their whole team forward when they attack. The only way we could have beaten them was to play defense the whole game and try to sneak one in past them. We learned at what level we are at and what level they are at."
claimed the program's first Coast Conference championship with a dominant 6-0 victory over visiting Cañada.
"It feels like something completely different again," said Cabrillo
2005 Cabrillo Men's Soccer Schedule
Current Record in Conference:10-1-1
Coast Conference CHAMPIONS!
Final Overall Record: 19-4-2