By Liliana Marquez
The East Los Angeles College men’s soccer team clinched a well-earned point in South Coast Conference play thanks to a header by Hector Reyes against Cerritos College in a 1-1 tie where both teams finished with 10 men each Oct. 24 at Weingart Stadium.
The match, which marked the beginning of the second round of SCC play, was full of intensity with both teams fighting to their fullest to get the three points.
Cerritos’ Ricardo Covarrubias grabbed the equalizer to cancel out Reyes’ opener with a first-half strike.
Stirred by a tense atmosphere, both sides played a high tempo during most of the half until Covarrubias scored the equalizer.
After that, the pace of the match decreased, but the second half proved to be even more intense with players being injured and two sent off.
ELAC got its second tie in conference play. The Huskies stand 5-6-4 overall, 2-4-2 in conference play while the Falcons (8-2-5, 3-1-4) were left with their third consecutive tie in conference.
Reyes’ header, his second goal of the season, came after ELAC was awarded a free kick, which was taken by teammate Juan Gallegos during the first minutes of the half.
Cerritos Head Coach Benny Artiaga said that his team has to be smarter for the upcoming matches and that they can’t get wrapped up playing aggressive soccer.
“We need to make sure that we think things through. Some of this kids are young and when they are provoked, they retaliate. We fell into that trap today,” Artiaga said.
“One of our kids losing his head cost us two points and if we are not going to learn from it, at the end of the day we’ll keep paying the price for it.”
ELAC’s captain and starting goalkeeper Andy Gutierrez was walking to his goal for the start of the second half when one of his teammates kicked the ball and it accidentally hit him right in the temple.
“I felt dizzy, so I sat down because my head was ringing,” Gutierrez said.
When Gutierrez was forced to leave the field, he took off his gloves and threw them aside in a sign of frustration.
“I thought I wasn’t going back (on the field) and that made me mad. I wasn’t worried about my head, I was more worried about winning. As long as I didn’t get knocked out, I was good,” Gutierrez said.
ELAC Head Coach Eddie Flores had no other choice, but to substitute him.
Their second goalkeeper Matias Amato was out for the game due to a minor injury, so their third goalkeeper Julian Perez came on the field.
After Gutierrez was off the field, he said that ELAC Athletic Trainer Diane Stankevitz conducted a concussion test and he passed it.
Minutes after the second half kicked off, Falcon Gilbert Rocha collapsed on the field and went out injured.
“He (Rocha) is injured very bad. He might have some type of nerve issue, because it wasn’t a deep bruise or some type of fracture. I am not a doctor, so I can’t say with certainty,” Artiaga said.
Fifteen minutes after ELAC substituted Gutierrez, Husky goalkeeper Perez clashed with a Cerritos player while jumping to catch the ball and prevent the Falcons from scoring the 2-1.
Flores said that Perez lost two teeth as a result of the clash. Perez was forced to leave the field while Gutierrez re-entered the match.
This was Perez’s second conference match. He played against Los Angeles Harbor College last Tuesday when the Huskies lost 3-2 on the road.
At the 75th minute, ELAC’s Oscar Plancarte-Padilla received a red card after intentionally hitting a Falcon with the ball, leaving the Huskies with a man down.
“He deserved it. He hit a player and he should know better, so he has to sit out the next game,” Flores said.
The visiting team asserted itself and pressured the Huskies, but ELAC never gave up and prevented Cerritos from scoring a victory.
To end the game, the Falcons were also reduced to ten men when Jose Ochoa received his second yellow card of the match.
“It was a double accumulation of yellows. They (ELAC) kept trying to instigate our players and it’s our fall because we fell into that type of ugly soccer,” Artiaga said.
“Next time we really need to be smarter and more disciplined. Every team is going to get us in this type of situations.”
For both Flores and ELAC’s goal scorer Reyes, the Huskies should have won the match.
“I believe that if we would have played a little bit more and kept the intensity, we could have scored, but unfortunately we got a tie. I was expecting a result like this, but I wanted us to win. My desire was to score another one,” Reyes said.
The Huskies face El Camino College on Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. at Weingart Stadium.