It took a state champion to take down the Pasadena City College men's soccer team Saturday. The seventh-seeded Lancers saw their finest season in eight years end in the third round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs by 2015 CCCAA champion and No. 3 seed Oxnard, 4-1.
PCC (12-5-6) recorded postseason wins over No. 10 Chaffey and No. 2 Golden West, but the Condors (14-2-8) used a high-octane offense to take a 3-1 lead into halftime in ultimately eliminating the Lancers.
Under first-year head coach Henry Cabral, Pasadena proved it was one of the top teams in California this year when you consider its five losses came all against three of the four teams that advanced to the CCCAA State Championship.
PCC lost twice to South No. 1 seed and state No. 1-ranked Mt. San Antonio in South Coast Conference North Division play. The Lancers also lost twice to Oxnard (2-1 loss in a non-conference contest) and once to Taft, a No. 6 seed in the North but one that got through to the state final four. Against all other opponents, PCC was undefeated in 18 games.
In the Oxnard loss, the Condors jumped ahead with two goals in a 3-minute span for a 2-0 advantage by the 17-minute mark. The Lancers answered in the 22nd minute with a goal by Jesus Garcia on a rebound kick in the box off a header by Artin Almary. It would be PCC's last hurrah as Francisco Arroyo ripped a blast from 18 yards away with four minutes left in the first half that gave Oxnard a 3-1 lead. Luis Carbajal added his second goal of the game in the 79th minute to cap the Condors' regional final win.
"We were down 3-1 against Golden West and won, but Oxnard isn't a team that will make mistakes. We just had too big a hole to recover from," Cabral said. "What can I say about our squad other than it was an amazing year for us. We had expectations to become a better team after the program struggled last year, but to get to the regional finals and play as well as we did with a ton of freshmen is something to be truly proud about."
Almary, a sophomore forward, picked up points in all three Lancers playoff games. His 17 points (seven goals, three assists) tied freshman Yader Rodriguez (eight goals, one assist) for the team scoring title. Freshmen Manuel Chavez (six goals, four assists for 16 points) and Garcia (15 points, six goals, three assists) followed in a balanced team scoring attack this season.
[Photo--Lancer Artin Almary slides to keep the ball in play during Saturday's regional final loss at Oxnard College, image by Richard Quinton.]