JC: Mt. SAC's encore? Who cares

How does Mt. San Antonio College top this?

Juan Sanchez doesn't know -- and doesn't care.

After guiding the Walnut-based Mounties (22-0-3) to their third successive state community college men's soccer title, Sanchez said there was no pressure to go for No. 4.

“You know what? There was no pressure for us to win three,” he said. “I never look at stats. I never look at those things, because to me, at the end of the day, that's when the pressure starts to build. Not once did I put that in my head.

“The fourth [try], we'll attack it the same way we attacked the last three years. I don't see there being any more pressure than there was three years ago [before we'd won our first.”

Sanchez expects five starters to return, including Danny Amaya (Rialto/Marshall HS), whose splendid strike Sunday in Sacramento delivered the 1-0 triumph over Hartnell, from Salinas, in the title game -- and extended Mt. SAC's unbeaten streak to 38 games. The Mounties are the top-ranked JC team in the nation.

Among those departing are Luis Fuentes (Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista HS), who scored 34 goals in two seasons, and Edgar Padilla (Baldwin Park/Baldwin Park HS) and Javier Castro (Pomona/International Poly HS), who combined this year for 20 goals and 14 assists.

“It's going to be a rebuilding year,” Sanchez said, “but what we've done, it's going to make it easy for us to recruit. We know the type of kids we want, the type of mental toughness they need to bring to handle these tough, tough games and these runs the last three years.

“It's a rebuilding year, just like last year, when we didn't expect to win it, and they showed maturity at the right time and peaked at the right time, and we were able to win [the state title] with a bunch of freshmen.”

Which is the best of the three title-winners?

“They're neck and neck,” he said. “I say that in the sense of discipline, mental focus, mental toughness. All three teams had that in them. To say one is better than another ... the first one was meaningful, after five years of knocking on the door and to finally break through and get it.

“This group really became a tight-knit family. You could see it in the beauty of the way they play, the way they're there for each other. It's just really nice to see this end for these guys the way it happened.”

UPON REFLECTION: Ian Woodhead, who guided Orange's Santiago Canyon College to the women's title game, says the Hawks (22-2-1) will be back after a 4-3 overtime loss Sunday to Santa Rosa.

“We've been to the final four four times in the last six years, won the [Orange Empire] Conference championship eight successive seasons.” he said. “We'll be good for awhile. We'll be strong.”

His take on the season: “When you start out a season, what you want is the team to put its heart and soul into what you're doing and want to win as much as you want to win, want to succeed as much as you want to succeed. I walk away, and they were invested in being the best you can be, and that's what I hope they walk away with once they have time to reflect.”