By Nathan Mollat, San Mateo Daily Journal
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Any time the Cañada and Skyline men's soccer teams get together, the games take on a little extra meaning as the only two community college programs in San Mateo County.
Tuesday's tilt in San Bruno had a little extra spice as both teams are off to their best starts in years and, with the Coast Conference South schedule still in a nascent stages, both are jockeying for not only a playoff spot, but a conference title.
The teams, both ranked in the top-10 in Northern California according to Cañada coach Erik Gaspar, put on quite a show as the two battled to a 4-4 draw.
"The way the game played out, it was nice to come back," said Skyline coach Gabe Saucedo as his team rallied from a second-half, two-goal deficit.
"But after we tied it, we had a chance to win it," Saucedo continued. "Little disappointed we didn't finish the win."
Skyline (1-1-1 Coast Conference, 7-1-1 overall) never led in the game and four times came back to forge a tie. The one player most relieved by the tie had to be Skyline's Brayan Mendoza, who had scoring chance after scoring chance go by the wayside.
But Mendoza never stopped working. Lacking a finishing touch Tuesday, Mendoza, instead, turned into a facilitator, assisting on the Trojans' final two goals that pulled them even.
After assisting on Michael Gordon's goal off the Trojans' sixth corner kick of the second half in the 67th minute, Mendoza provided the helper on the game-tying goal from Saul Lopez. Mendoza received the ball in space about 30 yards from goal and nary a defender around him. He broke in on goal before laying a pass off to his left to Lopez, who was racing down the left flank. Lopez's goal in the 83rd minute set off a Skyline celebration suitable for a victory.
Saucedo, however, had conflicting emotions, however. The Trojans had 12 shots in the second half, six of which were on frame. This after having 11 shots and nine on goal in the opening 45 minutes.
"We left a lot of goals out there," Saucedo said.
Cañada came into the match without having lost a game yet this season and the Colts were lucky to escape with the tie.
"I'm sure it was a great game for the spectators," Gaspar said. "Lot of credit to Skyline. They showed a lot of heart in battling back."
Cañada (0-0-3, 4-0-5) struggled to find a rhythm offensively in the second half, but the Colts did convert on their two best chances. With the game tied at 2 at halftime, Cañada moved ahead 3-2 in the 54th minute when Jorge Lopez curled in a free kick from 16 yards out from the left side of the penalty box, finding the far right corner.
The Colts pushed their lead to 4-2 nine minutes later when Giovanny Gomes, on a free kick from 50 yards out, chipped a ball into the Skyline penalty box, where Andy Arreguin redirected a shot on goal and into the back of the net.
"Games like this are always going to be a battle," Gaspar said.
While Skyline dominated the second half, the first half was wide open as both teams moved up and down the field. Cañada took an early 1-0 lead just two minutes into the game as the Colts found space in the Trojans' back line. Cañada's Jason Jattan stole a ball deep in the Skyline end and he found a wide open Jon Sebastian Cole Mesa in the middle of the Skyline penalty box, who found the back of the net for the first goal of the game.
The Trojans caught a little bit of a break with the game-tying goal as Joey Galvez's free kick from 20 yards out deflected off the defensive wall and past the Cañada goalkeeper to knot the score at 1 in the 22nd minute.
Cañada went back ahead in the 28th minute on Cole Mesa's second goal of the half. Much like the Colts' first goal, the Trojans turned the ball over deep in their end and Cañada made them pay. Ruben Romero came up with the steal for the Colts and found Cole Mesa stationed on the left side of the penalty box. He settled the ball before rifling a shot that hit the far right post and ricocheted across the goal and into the left side of the net for a 2-1 Colts lead.
"We just weren't pressuring well. We weren't closing down gaps," Saucedo said.
But the Trojans weren't through as a bang-bang play resulted in the equalizer in the 45th minute. A ball was served into the Cañada penalty box where the ball, Skyline's Galvez and Cañada goalkeeper Jamie Ybarra all collided. The ball squirted right back out to the top of the penalty box, where Skyline's Christian Marquez was waiting. Instead of taking the ball off the bounce, Marquez used a side scissor kick to slam the ball into the back of the net to tie the game at 2 going into halftime.
"I expected it to be close, but not 4-4," Saucedo said.