Men’s soccer scores crucial three-point victory

FIGHT FOR THE BALL—East Los Angeles College’s Alfredo Leon, right, fights to gain ball possession from Cesar Montenegro, left, from El Camion College Compton Center during a South Coast Conference match on Oct. 10 at Weingart Stadium. CN/JULIANNE OBREGON

By Liliana Marquez

After three winless South Coast Conference matches, the East Los Angeles College men’s soccer team scored a 4-2 victory over El Camino College Compton Center Oct. 10 at Weingart Stadium earning a much-needed three-points in the South Coast Conference standings.

This result helped the Huskies move up in the SCC standings. They are now tied with Los Angeles Harbor and Pasadena City colleges, all with four points and one conference victory each.

With this, ELAC now stands at 4-4-3 overall and 1-2-1 in SCC play.

The Huskies will face Mt. San Antonio College (7-1-3, 3-1) tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Weingart Stadium.

ELAC secured a hard-fought win over Compton thanks to a double by Alex Guerrero and a strike apiece from Horacio Zapiola and Juan Carlos Gonzalez.

Guerrero scored a back-to-back brace within the first 25 minutes of the second half to break the first half 1-1 tie.

He scored the 3-1 with a stunning bicycle kick, which made it the best goal of the afternoon and the most impressive goal scored by Guerrero so far in conference play.

“I was thinking, ‘Please let the ball bounce off his head and if it does, I’m just going to do something crazy.’ Then I saw it was coming off his back. I had no option and I couldn’t head it. I was about to do a bicycle kick. I got lucky and it worked,” Guerrero said.

The brace brought Guerrero to a total of six goals so far in the season.

ELAC’s Gonzalez blasted the fourth goal for ELAC, but there was still time for Compton to grab a second goal to make the final score 4-2 over the last minutes of the match.

For ELAC’s Guerrero the key to victory was teamwork.

“I think that we finally came together as a team. We played a great game offensively and defensively and everybody sacrificed and we ended up winning the game,” Guerrero said.

As for Zapiola, he said that the key was the team’s concentration.

“The key was that we stayed focused. We got scored on, but we kept our heads up and we kept thinking ahead, touching the ball, creating spaces and we never lost confidence,” Zapiola said.

ELAC Head Coach Eddie Flores said that the the substitutions he made throughout the match were crucial to the victory.

“There were some players that haven’t had any minutes up to day, but as soon as we put them in, they just started clicking,” Flores said.

The match kicked off with ELAC having the first scoring chances with a free kick taken by Christian Vasquez, which Tartar goalkeeper Eduardo Plaza stopped without difficulties.

The Huskies communicated well throughout the first 30 minutes of the first half, but Compton’s Bryan Melendez scored the opener at the 30th-minute mark.

The goal gave the Tartars the advantage, but five minutes later ELAC’s Zapiola came in and scored the equalizer.

“I was like, ‘Finally! I needed this,’ and the hanger I had inside of me, I just let it out. It was for me, for the team. It took me some time to get into the game. I came to LA (from Argentina) and I needed to adapt to the game reading here,” Zapiola said.

“It’s kind of different in Argentina. A little bit faster and more physical, so I thank the coach for giving me the chance to play.”

Zapiola, who hasn’t played a lot of minutes for ELAC, came into the game as a substitution along with Cesar Alvarez and like Flores said, their partnership on the field just clicked. This was Zapiola’s first goal of the season.

With the score even, the intensity and the pace of the game increased during the second half. Flores said that this was due to the rotations that he made.

“We started with a set lineup, but I told the coaches that it wasn’t working, so we put Horacio (Zapiola) and Cesar (Alvarez) in the game and they connected,” Flores said.

“Then I brought Jose Garcia to start the second half and we started to move the pieces around. This is the kind of score that we should have had against Long Beach and El Camino (colleges).”

For Zapiola what helped the team to change the pace was the talk during halftime.

“We talked about tactics. They told us that we needed to give 100 percent to win the game and that’s what we did. The goals had to appear and they did. We needed this win,” Zapiola said.

It was 15 minutes into the second half when Guerrero broke the tie after the Tartar defense left him in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Plaza.

According to Compton’s Head Coach Jose Garcia, after the 3-1, the Tartars seemed to give up, so he decided to make some rotations. He substituted goalkeeper Plaza and brought in Roberto Garcia.

But the Huskies were not done and minutes later after the goalkeeper substitution, they scored the 4-1.

During the final minutes of the match, Compton scored a goal, but was disallowed by the referee due to an offside call.

Then they managed to score another goal on ELAC’s goalkeeper Matias Amato who substituted captain Andy Gutierrez minutes before.

Garcia said at the beginning of the match, the Tartars performed better, but the equalizer before halftime hurt his team.

“The mistakes in the second half killed us with the counterattack. You can’t get scored on in a counter like that and after the 3-1, the boys just gave up,” Garcia said.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN—East Los Angeles College’s Ruben Arceo Perez sprints forward after he gains ball possession on Oct. 10 at Weingart Stadium against El Camino College Compton Center. CN/JULIANNE OBREGON

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