A compelling yet scoreless first half set the stage for a wildly entertaining finale, as College of the Canyons downed L.A. Mission College 3-2 on a late goal from Caesar Dominguez on Friday afternoon.
With the win, Canyons (3-8) ended a season-long six-game losing streak, while sending the Eagles (4-5-2) home empty handed.
Dominguez, who earlier in the half assisted on two goals scored by Aaron Winsick, credited his teammate for setting up the winning tally.
"(Matthew Ochoa) was running inside and he dragged two defenders with him," said Dominguez. "I yelled his name, and he gave me the ball and it was just me one-on-one with the goalie."
The first eight minutes of the game featured a back-and-forth pace, with neither team gaining much of an advantage. The first scoring opportunity of the half came for the Eagles but, COC goalkeeper Justin Socarras was up for the challenge, knocking the ball out of play.
The best scoring opportunity of the half was for L.A. Mission who fired a shot from eight yards outside the box. Socarras leapt and got a fingertip on the ball, pushing it into the bar and out for a spectacular save, preserving the scoreless time.
Joshua Ausherman had a big first half for the Cougars with four shots, three on goal. But he was turned away each time without finding the back of the net.
The Eagles were eventually able to break through early in the second half as Jorge Rojas found space in the box and snuck the ball past Socarras.
That lead lasted exactly one minute as the Cougars were able to quickly find the equalizer when Tyler Jovel lifted a beautiful pass into the box that Dominguez touched to Winsick for a one-timer goal.
Just three minutes later, COC took the lead with the same three players teaming up for a goal. Jovel threw in to Dominguez who dropped a perfect header to Winsick who found the back of the net, giving the Cougars their first lead.
The Cougar lead was short lived, however, as Javier Moran found a hole in the defense and blasted a shot just beyond the outstretched fingertips of Socarras.
It appeared that the game would end in a 2-2 draw as the Cougars had four shots that just missed the goal. But with three minutes remaining, Ochoa made a deep run up the left side and his pass found Dominguez for the winning goal.
"We fought until the end, that's what really counts," Dominguez said. "We didn't give up and that's why we came out with the victory."
The Cougars will return to action on Tuesday, Oct. 10, for the Western State Conference (WSC) opener against Glendale College. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
— Brandon Johnson/COC Sports Information
—Photo credit Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information