After seven road games to start the season, the Pasadena City College men's soccer team finally played its 2018 home opener Friday at Robinson Stadium. The non-regulation, narrow football field has always produced some classic games and the matchup between the Lancers and visiting East Los Angeles was another end-to-end thriller.
In a game that featured endless scoring opportunities for both teams, PCC rallied from down 1-0 and 2-1 to defeat the Huskies, 3-2. In the 87th minute, Bryce Watson made a throw-in from the side of the 12-yard line. The ball slipped through several players in the goalie box and found the foot of Santana Nunez who tapped in the game-winning goal.
PCC improved to 4-3-1 overall and 1-1 in SCC North play. ELAC dropped to 3-5-2 and 1-1.
Maybe the biggest plays of the game occurred on defense for PCC. In the 72nd minute, ELAC managed to get Lancers goalie Steven Sandoval out of position. In what seemed like an eternity, the Huskies fired back-to-back-to-back shots at the Lancers goal only to come up empty. Guillermo Guzman got around Sandoval but his point-blank shot was blocked out by leaping Lancers defender Christopher Munoz. Then Guzman got the ball back booted another attempt that PCC's Bryan Garcia headed out. The play didn't end there as Juan Adona got the second rebound but his shot from the top of the box at the open net went high above the crossbar.
After ELAC took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute, the Lancers answered in the 11th minute with a beautiful goal as Jonathan Mariona drove a free kick from midfield. Anthony Jimenez headed the drive perfectly to Alexis Guzman, who in one motion, directed the ball into the net. In the 55th minute, the Huskies regained the lead when Denilson Rivera headed in a shot with his back to the goal from the 15 yard-line. Sandoval had come out to defend the top of the box on a free kick that started the play but Rivera's ball went over his head for the score.
PCC tied it again just three minutes later as David Vasquez-Mena sent in a long pass that Jimenez cradled, dribbled in and deked past ELAC goalie Antonio Sanchez for his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
In the second half of the game, the teams combined for 25 shots after only eight combined in the opening 45 minutes. The Huskies outshot the Lancers overall, 18-15. Sandoval made four saves and has a 3-1-1 record and 0.91 goals against average in games he has participated.
"It was a back and forth type game," said PCC head coach Gerry Mora. "We played from behind or tied for most of the game, but I thought we finished strong. We've played well in our conference games and this will give us confidence going into our next match."
On September 25 in the SCC North opener, host Chaffey scored goals two minutes apart in the first half and went on to blank the Lancers, 2-0.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, PCC will play at state power Mt. San Antonio College in a 6 p.m. kickoff. The Lancers are No. 15 in the current RPI ratings that determine postseason playoff berths.