By Meyer Gorelick
The eighth-seeded City College men’s soccer team advanced to the second of the Northern California playoffs with a dramatic 1-0 victory over the ninth-seeded West Valley College Vikings on Saturday, Nov. 23.
The Rams came out flat, and struggled to keep possession throughout the first half. They came close to conceding twice.
In the eighth minute, a West Valley player fired a point blank shot off the post that would have ricocheted into the goal if not for a goal line clearance from freshman center back Lionel Rodriguez.
In the 29th minute, West Valley was awarded a penalty kick after an unlucky handball from freshman center back Sora Konishi-Gray. Viking sophomore standout Pablo Ramirez Belmont, who had been wreaking havoc down the left sideline stepped up to take the kick.
His shot was saved by freshman goalie Isaac Alvarez, igniting a guttural eruption from the full bleachers.
The Rams tweaked their formation at halftime, switching from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 in order to be able to apply more pressure on the Viking wingbacks.
The strategy paid off, and the Rams started the second half on the front foot. Freshman striker Christian Vasquez set himself up with a fantastic first touch for a promising lob attempt that he skied over the bar.
With overtime looming, the Rams hit paydirt in the 80th minute when sophomore winger Richard Perez-Rodriguez combined nicely down the right flank with freshman Sagan Patarroyo-White before cutting the ball back from the endline to freshman forward Armando Sandria who was ready inside the penalty box.
Sandria rifled his shot into the roof of the net before sprinting to the corner flag to celebrate with his elated teammates.
West Valley proceeded to pour on the pressure, creating two great chances to equalize, one which was headed off the crossbar and over, the other hit tamely at Alvarez. The Rams hung on and the Vikings season ended.
“That was a top moment for me, it was surreal,” Sandria said, recounting his goal. “We played great as a team, and with intensity. We had a good week of training. That goal is something we practiced, it’s straight out of training.”
“That was a huge save, huge moment, I stepped up and tried to do my job,” Alvarez said about his penalty stop. “We were great, we played with passion and did the dirty work. Everyone busted their ass. This is a special group.”
The win earned the Rams a second round matchup against the top-seeded Santa Rosa Junior College Bear Cubs, a team they tied 2-2 in the regular season after giving up a late goal.
The Rams couldn’t reel off another victory, and on Tuesday Nov. 26, the Rams season ended in a 3-1 loss to the Bear Cubs.