Danny Amaya scored what his coach called “the most beautiful goal you could imagine,” and it brought Mt. San Antonio College riches well beyond what it ever imagined.
Amaya's goal midway through the second half Sunday afternoon delivered a third successive state community college men's soccer title to the Mounties (22-0-3), who extended their unbeaten streak to 38 games with a 1-0 triumph over Hartnell (19-3-3) in Sacramento.
Amaya tallied on a 25-yard blast to the upper-corner, in off the top of the post, and Mt. SAC, from Walnut, used solid play at the back to close out its 14th shutout of the season and sixth in the last seven games.
“You know what? It's awesome,” Juan Sanchez, who has guided the Mounties to four successive state final fours, told ESPN Los Angeles. “It's kind of like a dream. To win the first one was very difficult, No. 2 was very hard, and now No. 3 is just -- there's now words that can describe the feelings.”
The Mounties were favored from the season's start after returning several pivotal players from the group that beat College of the Canyons in last year's final. They're ranked No. 1 in the national polls, and that means something to them because California junior colleges aren't involved in the NJCAA national championships.
“Hopefully, we'll get the mythical national title,” Sanchez said. “That was one of our goals. Last year we won the state championship and finished third [in the national poll], and we want to get it this year.”
Mt. SAC had more possession in an otherwise even battle, repeatedly penetrating through Amaya (Rialto/Marshall HS) and top scorer Luis Fuentes (Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista HS). Hartnell, from Salinas, struck a post early in the second half and nearly netted an equalizer, by Max Estrada, in the final moments.
WOMEN: Santiago Canyon falls in OT
Cara Curtin scored four times to lead Santa Rosa Junior College in a cat-and-mouse women's final in Sacramento, netting the decisive goal with 30 seconds to go in overtime for a 4-3 triumph over Santiago Canyon.
The Bear Cubs (20-1-3), who had lost in three previous state title games, had rallied on a late Curtin penalty kick to force overtime but saw Santiago Canyon, from Orange, overcome one deficit in overtime.
Kristen Blogg (Rancho Santa Margarita/Trabuco Hills HS) answered Curtin's first goal early in the second half, and Janelle Hanna (Orange/El Modena HS) provided a 2-1 lead with a late penalty kick. Jennifer Martin (La Mirada/Sunny Hills HS) scored for the Hawks (22-2-1) in overtime.
“It was one of those games where you're proud to be involved in it,” Santiago Canyon coach Ian Woodhead said Sunday night. “It was a fantastic display of women's soccer, at our level, and a thrilling game with great goals and great saves and penalties and drama and the score changing hands back and forth. Just lovely.”
Santiago Canyon, which has four final-four appearances and two titles in the past six years, “dominated possession, and we knew we probably would dominate possession, and they would look to counter,” Woodhead said. “We couldn't manage their counter well enough over the course of 120 minutes.”
Curtin finished with 38 goals this season as Santa Rosa claimed the first women's title by a school from Northern California since 1996 and only is the fifth since the first tournament in 1986.