VENTURA - The Santiago Canon College Hawks kept their winning streak alive and pushed their win total to 23 straight but, more importantly, they are one win away from claiming their third California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) state title in program history. The Hawks defeated the San Joaquin Delta College Mustangs, 2-1, in the semifinal round of the state championships behind a strong offensive attack and a stout defense that halted the Mustangs to a mere five shots throughout the entire contest.
Santiago Canyon kicked off the night in the fourth minute with a classic combination that granted them what seemed to be endless momentum. Ofelia Sosa, who has proven to be one of the most difficult forwards in the state to guard, corralled a ball on the near side of the pitch and lofted a ball that crossed behind San Joaquin Delta's entire backline. It quickly found the foot of Luli Bethencourt for the one-timer goal.
From then on, it was a tight game with the Mustangs knocking on the door. However, they could not seem to break through as seen in a 1-0 Hawks advantage entering the second half.
The Mustangs came out strong in the second half by playing a fast-pace contest, but the Hawks remained sturdy in the defensive game.
In the 85th minute, San Joaquin Delta's Sophie Saouma committed a foul inside the goalkeeper's box which granted Santiago Canyon's Haley McDevitt a penalty kick. She followed by burying the kick in the bottom right pocket of the cage to put her squad up by two scores with minimal time remaining.
The Mustangs made the most out of three extra minutes of stoppage time. Jaylin Meza earned a free kick just outside of the box and bent a 30-yard strike into the far right shelf of the goal to bring the contest within one score of a tie. However, there was not enough time remaining as the Hawks reeled in the 2-1 victory.
Meza's goal snapped an eight-game streak of the Hawks not allowing a single score, but it was all for nothing.
Jessica Neighbors earned her 13th win of the season after recording three saves in 90 minutes of action. Angelica Ortega led the Hawks in shots with three - two of them landed on target. Sosa dished out one assist and recorded a pair of shots on goal.
The Hawks will look to remain perfect in their quest for a state title as they will face the Lake Tahoe City College Coyotes on Sunday at Ventura College at 2 p.m.
(Nicho DellaValle, Riverside City College)