The Lancers moved to an overall record of 2-2-1 after a heartbreaking 1-1 tie following a late stoppage time penalty kick goal by the state’s number one ranked Taft.
The Lancers led Taft 1-0 after an early penalty kick goal in the 20th minute. Sophomore forward David “Pato” Vazquez-Mena strategically drew a foul in the box. He took advantage of a defensive lapse by a Taft defender and capitalized on the moment.
“The center back got the ball, I saw that he took a bad touch and I went to go press him,” Vazquez-Mena explained. “I got in front of him and it was almost a 1v1 with the goalie, he tried to stop me from taking the kick, and I didn’t fall or anything but he obstructed me from taking the kick and that’s when the ref marked it.”
The Lancers were awarded an opportunity to take the lead and Vazquez-Mena took his spot in front of the penalty marker. The sophomore forward was beyond confident in his shooting ability and opted to take the shot.
“I tried to stay composed, I saw the keeper, he was trying to play with my head a little bit,” Vazquez-Mena said. “Before I shot, I was kind of hinting to him that I was going to go to the left and it just so happens he went to the left and I switched it on him.”
Vazquez-Mena was not the only Lancers player to make an impact on the field, freshman goalkeeper Steven Sandoval had a tremendous game, defending the net against Taft’s offensive onslaught. The young netminder put up an impressive 6 saves against the state’s top team. In preparation for the game Sandoval made sure that his legs were in optimal shape.
“I just rested, took an ice bath, made sure my legs were good because that’s what I needed,” Sandoval stated. “You know how you need your legs to jump? I rested my legs and you just got to be confident.”
Playing behind everyone gave Sandoval the ability to observe his team as they battled Taft. He saw his team perform well in the first half only to slow down a bit towards the end. Despite the slowing down of the team in the later part of the game, Sandoval still felt that the Lancers deserved the win.
“We deserved to win because we all were putting in that work to get the ball out,” Sandoval said. “But unfortunately, last minute there was a PK.”
Once Pasadena took the lead it was up to the defense to keep the team in the game. The Lancers played lock down defense for the rest of the first half with a slight drop-off in their performance in the second half of the match.
However, the dip in performance did not have an obvious effect on the team as the defense was still able to hold off Taft through regular time. It wasn’t until late in an unusually long stoppage time that Taft was awarded a penalty kick opportunity. Taft was able to exploit this moment and put away the goal, narrowly escaping what would have been their first defeat of the season.
PCC alumni and former Lancers player turned coach, Gerry Mora noticed his teams tremendous effort on defense and attributed it to their focus during practices, while also alluding to the fact that some work on counter-attacks would help the Lancers.
“Second half we defended a lot and we’ve done this here on the training ground,” Mora stated. “How to defend, and defend. But we have not trained in counter-attacks.”
Coach Mora pointed to his team’s ability to keep possession as one of the stronger points of the Lancers’ game.
Regardless of the tie, the team was in high spirits at their most recent practice after nearly defeating their highly ranked opponents in a close match. Mora acknowledged his team’s heightened morale.
“This is where they can have fun, improve and get work done,” Mora said. “It’s a sport, but at the same time we try to have fun with it.”
PCC’s next game is away against rival, Glendale College on September 21 at 5pm.