By Liliana Marquez
Cesar Alvarez had the perfect timing to net the game-winner for the East Los Angeles College men’s soccer team to defeat state-ranked Mt. San Antonio College, 2-1, at the Mounties’ home on Nov. 7. to move the Huskies closer to playoffs.
The Mounties have been state champions for four consecutive years (2009-2012).
They were ranked in No. 3 statewide and No. 2 in the Southern California Region coming into the match, according to the CCCSIA State and Regional Polls.
The Huskies still have to win their last two South Coast Conference matches against Pasadena City and Los Angeles Harbor colleges.
ELAC stands 7-7-5 overall, 4-5-3 in conference play while Mt. SAC is now 10-3-6 and 6-3-3.
ELAC’s winner was scored during the 46th minute with a fast play created by Husky Justin Burroughs who ran down the wing and sent a pass to Alvarez who was alone near the penalty box.
Alvarez stopped the ball and took a shot to send it in and scored for the Huskies, giving them three points and a boost of confidence after their 2-1 defeat on Nov. 4 against El Camino College Compton Center.
“I believe that the key to victory was our way of thinking, of coming into the game and the will to win it and doing things right. These factors led the game to a different outcome,” Alvarez said in Spanish. This was Alvarez’s third goal as a Husky.
Teammate Jose Gudino, who scored the opener, said that for him the key to defeating Mt. SAC was that the Huskies played as a team with heart and never gave up on each other.
This victory helped ELAC, which now has a total of 15 points in the SCC standings, just a point behind Long Beach City College.
Alvarez also said that he hopes that the Huskies keep playing like they did against Mt. SAC for their last two regular season matches against PCC and Harbor.
“We played with heart and passion. We were positive and played as a team. We played smart. Mt. SAC was local, so we knew they were going to fight hard. We surprised them with the opener, but they never gave up,” Alvarez said.
“We didn’t allow them to take control of the match. They had plenty of chances to tie, but our defense and midfield were on point.”
Gudino scored the opener just a couple of minutes before halftime from a cross sent from the right side.
One of his teammates went up in the air to challenge the ball, but it was headed by a Mt. SAC defender. Gudino was standing outside of the 18 yard line when the ball went his way and before it hit the turf, he volleyed it toward the opposite post, scoring the 1-0 for ELAC.
This was Gudino’s third goal of the season.
The Mounties got back into the game at the 64th minute when Tyrone Pitter scored the 2-1, but weren’t able to come from behind.
“I got worried when they (Mt. SAC) scored because they were close to tie the game, but that also motivated us to keep fighting for the win,” Alvarez said.
Gudino said that though the victory against the Mounties was crucial for the team, ELAC needs to keep working hard to end regular season strong.
“This victory put us in a better position to make it to playoffs and I am sure that we all want it. It was a tough game but we can’t stop working hard. This victory made it clear that we have the talent and skill to compete against tough teams. It isn’t over,” Gudino said.
“We still have two games so we have to stay humble and hungry for more victories. We have to play these last two games as if they were a final.”
The last match on the road will be against PCC on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. The Huskies end regular season at Weingart Stadium against Harbor on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.