COC women’s soccer playoff road ends with marathon match

Dan Watson/The Signal
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LA Pierce women’s soccer’s Kerian Neal stepped up to the ball. Her team was leading in penalty kicks over College of the Canyons as the Saturday sun was setting at COC.

After nearly 120 minutes of scoreless play, a step and a sweep of Neal’s leg ended the Cougars playoff journey as she made the final PK that sealed a Brahmas win in the first round of the CCCAA women’s soccer Southern California Regional.

“It’s a tough one to digest,” said Canyons coach Justin Lundin. “We had a great season. Nothing against Pierce, but this isn’t a team that we should lose to and that’s probably what hurts the most.”

COC was able to create scoring chances early, but LA Pierce clogged up the middle to slow their efforts. Canyon alum Angel Quintero had a quality chance at the end of the first half, but her shot from inside the box went wide.

On the other side of halftime, Cougars goalkeeper Jordan Burrow exited the game with an injury in the 15th minute, forcing Trinity Classical Academy product Emily Ozanich into the game.

“I trained really hard to get where I am and so it all paid off in the end to be able to step in for my team the last few minutes,” said Ozanich, who made the move to keeper this season after previously playing as a defender.

Quintero was aggressively pressured throughout the game, but was sidelined after an in-air collision with Brahmas defender Nichole Evans. With two minutes remaining in regulation, Evans was handed a red card and left the game.

The match proceeded to overtime as neither team managed to find the net, although Canyons was in scoring position multiple times. COC ended the match with 10 shots on goal.

“When we got the second half and started playing on the flanks, we started creating a lot of opportunities and unfortunately just didn’t have anyone stop up and put the ball in the net today.”

The pattern repeated for the two 15-minute overtime periods. The pressure began to mount as minute after scoreless minute passed.

“It was more mentally exhausting than physically exhausting,” Ozanich, who registered two saves, said. “But we are really strong emotionally and mentally. So that definitely helped us in the game.”

Alondra Solis and Ciera Crawford each made their penalty kicks for the Cougars. Gisell Cruz, Jennifer Veliz, Esmeralda Guzman and Neal executed for LA Pierce.

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