Stomping and screaming; Dons take down Rustlers in gritty matchup

Dons midfielder Vincent Lopez (left) was involved in both red card altercations on Tuesday. Rustlers defenseman Matthew Guevara stomped on Lopez after this tackle and received the card. Photo by Nicholas Wire / el Don

Santa Ana College men’s soccer defeated Golden West College on Tuesday, Nov. 7, by a final of 2-0. 

They currently sit entwined together in the Orange Empire Conference standings at fifth and sixth place, separated by one point.

With this win, the Dons leapfrogged the Rustlers and now have a higher chance of making the playoffs.

“We knew getting a win today would increase our chances of making the playoffs,” said head coach Jose Vasquez.

Golden West played physically and angrily, resulting in two red cards and two yellow cards in total.

The previous four meetings between these two teams were ties.

The first half was sloppy for the Dons, as they weren’t able to finish their plays. SAC had good ball distribution, but they didn’t lead to any good scoring chances. They were just able to get four shots in total in the first half.

Defensively, they disrupted every Golden West attack. 

After a failed corner by SAC, Golden West countered quickly on the attack, but a crucial slide tackle from midfielder Ernesto Lopez prevented a legitimate shot on goal. 

Despite this, SAC stuck to its game plan and did not change anything. 

“Our game plan was to overplay them and just be aggressive throughout the whole game,” said coach Vasquez. 

Their game plan worked, as it baited a harsh foul from Golden West defender Matthew Guevara on Santa Ana midfielder Vicente Lopez. Guevara stomped on Lopez after a physical play on the ball took them both to the ground. He received a red card, giving the Dons the man advantage.

“We knew in the back of our heads that we have an extra player so we knew we were going to have an advantage in the second half,” said SAC’s midfielder and captain Isaac Pineda. 

The Dons came out aggressive and vengeful to start the second half. 

SAC midfielder Edward Nembhard had the team’s first legitimate scoring chance when he took a shot outside the box and barely sailed the ball over the goalpost. 

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Minutes after that, midfielder Ernesto Lopez stole a poorly controlled Rustlers touch. He took on a player with a quick turn and played it to fellow midfielder Mark Rayo. Rayo took the pass, drove to his left, and scored. 

Midfielder Marck Rayo scored his eighth goal of the season on this shot. Photo by Nicholas Wire / el Don

Having an extra player became a key factor, because slowly Golden West was getting overwhelmed by SAC’s constant pressure.  The Rustlers were frustrated, as their offense was stagnant and their defense was starting to become overwhelmed and tired.

With their frustration, the Dons were able to capitalize on this and make them commit another mistake. This mistake cost Golden West another red card. This time, it was a breakaway final man tackle, though the rustler players argued profusely with the referees. 

“Being up 2 players, we knew that we were at an advantage,” said coach Vasquez.

This mistake led to the Dons having another chance at goal. This time Rayo took a free kick. His shot went around the post and just wide of the goal. 

With two extra players, the Dons knew that they had the game’s momentum. They capitalized on that advantage right away. 

Dons forward Remy Barajas put the nail in the coffin. He scored his goal after Golden West’s goalkeeper blocked the initial shot, then he quickly took a rebound and shot it before the goalie was able to react. 

SAC was dominant throughout the second half. They had 14 shots in the half alone. Golden West couldn’t keep up with the Don’s momentum. 

Up next, Orange Coast College comes to SAC on Thursday, Nov. 9 to play the Dons in their final game of the season. SAC lost previously on the road to OCC by a final of 3-2 on October 17.

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