By Jesse Munoz
For The Signal College of the Canyons men’s soccer is heading back to the postseason for the first time since 2010 after winning the first conference title in program history. Canyons (10-6-3, 7-2-1), champions of the Western State Conference (WSC), South Division, has earned the No. 15 seed in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Regional Playoffs and will now face No. 2 Mt. San Antonio College on Saturday. The Cougars won four of their final five games down the stretch to end the regular season, including a 1-0 road victory over Bakersfield College last Friday to clinch the historic conference championship. The win came in response to Canyons having lost a potential clinch game vs. Antelope Valley College in its previous outing. In what was a tight and physical match, AVC managed to sneak a ball over the line in the 89th minute to hand Canyons a disappointing 2-1 blow. But against Bakersfield, the result was different. COC netted its lone score of the game off the foot of sophomore Jorge Rojas, via a penalty kick, in the 12th minute. From there, goalkeepers Gabriel Ochoa and Emerson Chavarria combined for seven saves and the clean sheet to help COC accomplish a goal it had set early last spring. “So many emotions at the end of the match,” said COC head coach Phil Marcellin after his team’s win over Bakersfield. “Having been so close so many times, missing the opportunity to close it out last Tuesday at home. To finally get over the mark was amazing.” Marcellin, who is in his 16th season leading COC’s men’s program, has led the squad to a 127-145-63 overall record and three postseason appearances in that span. In 2010 the Cougars made it all the way to the CCCAA State Championship match but have not played a postseason game since. “I’m getting texts, emails and social media posts from so many COC alumni who are celebrating this achievement with the guys,” added Marcellin, “which makes it even more special.” COC has been led by a three-headed monster up front, with sophomores Cesar Dominguez, Rojas and Andres Lozano doing the bulk of the scoring. Dominguez, a Valencia grad, leads the Cougars and ranks seventh in the WSC with 10 goals to go with four assists. Rojas is second on the team with nine goals and four assists, while Lozano, who attended Golden Valley, has eight goals. The Mounties (16-3-3, 6-0-2) went undefeated in conference play to win the South Coast Conference, North Division championship, the program’s 13th since 1999. Mt. SAC won seven of its last eight games, including one draw, and has not lost since a 1-0 home defeat to Cerritos College on Oct. 12. The program ended the regular season with a No. 8 state ranking. No. 15 COC and No. 2 Mt. SAC will square off at 5 p.m. on Saturday in Walnut.
Lady Cougars Heading Back to Postseason
COC women’s soccer is heading back to the postseason for the eighth consecutive time after a season in which the Lady Cougars finished as conference runner-up for the first time in recent memory. Canyons (8-7-3, 5-1-2) trailed WSC, East Division champions Antelope Valley College (12-3-3, 6-1-1) by two points in the final conference standings, after the Marauders were able to eke out a late goal to down Bakersfield on the final day of the regular season. A loss or draw by AVC would have allowed COC to claim a share of the conference crown and extend its championship streak another year. Instead, the Lady Cougars were forced to settle for second place, but with a chance for redemption. As fate would have it, No. 9 seed Canyons will now travel to face No. 8 AVC for a CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoff match. The two teams split the regular season series, with COC winning 3-0 on its home field back on Oct. 9 and AVC returning the favor by handing Canyons a 3-0 loss in Lancaster on Oct. 26. Canyons had won seven straight WSC titles before this season but has not advanced past the opening round of the playoffs since 2014. COC head coach Justin Lundin and the Lady Cougars will look to change that when the team faces off vs. AVC at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
COC Cross-Country Send Three to State Championship Meet
Canyons cross country will compete at Saturday’s state championship meet after having three runners qualify as individuals based on their performance at the CCCAA Southern California Championships earlier this month. Sophomores Amanda Finn (19:52), Celeste Gonzalez (20:16.2) and Samantha Bell (20:22.4) will each take part in COC’s annual trip to Fresno, site of the state championship meet, after finishing 50th, 61st and 64th, respectively, in the field of 177 runners who participated in the SoCal regional championships. COC’s women’s squad placed 15th in the team standings at the SoCal Regional to narrowly miss a chance to compete as a team in Fresno. The top 14 teams from Southern California automatically qualify for a trip to the state championships. Finn and Bell both ran in Fresno as freshmen a season ago, helping COC’s women’s team to an eighth-place team finish. The 2018 CCCAA Cross Country State Championships will be held Saturday, Nov. 17 at Woodward Park in Fresno. The women’s race will begin at 8:30 a.m. followed by the men’s competition at 9:30 a.m.