The Santa Ana Dons were stunned in the second half against the Golden West Rustlers on Friday, Sept. 30. This matchup had bad blood running deep as both teams shared the conference title last season. The Dons let the lead slip away after allowing the Rustlers to score two goals in the second half.
“The tension is always high against Golden West because it is a rivalry against them,” said sophomore goalkeeper Jorge Cortes. “Having shared the conference title with them last year, we want to beat them every chance we get.”
In the 20th minute, sophomore defender Antonio Wall opened up the score for the Dons from a set piece. The corner kick was served by sophomore forward Josue Martinez, who found a towering wall inside the Rustler’s defense. Wall rose above everyone and headed the game’s first goal into the second post. Martinez now has a total of three assists this season so far.
Four minutes later, sophomore midfielder Jesse Mancilla set up for a free kick from the left side. Mancilla aimed his cross towards goal, which caused panic among the Rustler’s defenders. As the visiting team tried to clear the cross, one of the Rustler’s defenders stretched their arm out , forcing the referee to blow his whistle for a penalty kick.
Mancilla stepped up for the penalty kick for the Dons, and once again added his signature stutter step, sending the Rustlers goalkeeper in the opposite direction and giving the Dons a 2-0 lead. The Katella High School alumni now has collected a total of three goals this season.
The Dons’ downfall began in the 69th minute after some passive defending. With a cross that came from the left side, the Rustlers took advantage of poor defending in the second post as the Dons gave the visiting team too much space. Which allowed them to score an easy tap-in to get back into the game.
In the 88th minute, the Rustlers again attacked from the left side. This time from a deeper lying play, but the result was the same, a Rustlers attacker connecting from a cross without any pressure from the Dons defenders. In this crucial moment the Rustlers attacker was able to shake off the Dons defender. A header at the near post was slotted into the Dons’ second post, leaving Cortes no chance for a save.
“We have struggled with closing out games a few times this season and we hope to learn from it and prevent it from happening again,” said Cortes. “We put ourselves under pressure by not keeping possession of the ball and also by not finishing our chances when we can put the game away early.”
With an overall record of 4-3-4 and conference record of 0-1-1, the Dons’ next home game will be against Orange Coast College Pirates on Friday, Oct. 7.