The shot totals often can tell the story behind a soccer game. It certainly did on Tuesday as the Pasadena City College men's soccer team kept the ball frequently on the Long Beach City College side of the field, outshooting the Vikings, 29-8, in a 3-0 victory at Robinson Stadium. It was the Lancers home opener and first time in action on the school's new artificial turf surface, now at regulation size for the sport.
PCC (2-1) delivered shots from all over the field, on free kicks, breakaways, combo plays, redirects, timed headers and individual creative plays. The Lancers didn't reach the scoreboard until the 36th minute when Emmanuel Becerra reached a loose ball and fired in a shot from the 9-yard line for what proved to be the game-winning goal. Defender Adam Ure assisted on the score as he sent a cross that was deflected by a LBCC player which fell at the feet of Becerra. In the second half, Pasadena increased the pressure with its reserves and although it got two late goals, the team had a bevy of premium scoring chances as well as 17 shots directed toward the LBCC goal.
In the 81st minute, Marco Villegas ripped a free kick from the 23-yard line that went off the cross bar. Danny Vargas headed in the loose ball at the goal-line for a 2-0 advantage. The Lancers closed out the scoring in extra time (90th minute for statistical purposes) when Vargas sent a cross that was one-timed by Carlos Navarro, but was initially stopped by Long Beach goalie by Mario DeLaTorre. Navarro got the rebound and sent it for the final score just a few seconds before the referee blew the final whistle.
DeLaTorre, who made 11 saves, twice stoned Lancers reserve Kevin Huertos on point-blank attempts in the second half and made a diving stop on a drive by Jason Bautista in the 15th minute. He also had big saves on two separate opportunities by Edwin De Jesus while Christian Ibarra just missed scoring on a blast that hit the crossbar just three minutes in the second half.
Pasadena goalie Steven Sandoval didn't have as busy a time as DeLaTorre but more than earned the shutout. Among his five saves were a nifty breakaway stop on LBCC's Cameran Badal (22nd minute), a robbery of a shot from five yards away by Louis Arellano (29th minute) and another save on a Badal attempt after the Vikings forward got free inside the box in the 51st minute.
Mora talked about the excitement of playing on a brand new surface and a regulation width after the college played the past 20 years on a narrow Robinson Stadium configuration.
"It's fantastic to play on a beautiful new field," he said. "My coaching style is to go lateral with precision passing, something we just couldn't do in the past because the field was too narrow. I'm really impressed with our depth. I feel like our second unit is often right there with our starters. We just are able to get a good rotation going. This was my first true recruiting year here and my assistants and I worked hard to bring in players at all the different positions. It's hard to share minutes but I tell all the players to be patient because their time will come. We do have some really strong midfielders in Ernesto Angulo, Bautista, Becerra, Johnny Jimenez and Joseph Cortez. Those guys are kind of the heart of the team.
"We have an athletic goalie in Sandoval who is quick and makes good decisions. Then in front of him, we have two really solid defenders in Edson Pulido at centerback and Ure on the right side."
PCC returns to action on Friday, Sept. 6 in a 4 p.m. game at Cuyamaca College.