The Southern California College men’s soccer team, which nearly pulled off a big upset Saturday, has another chance tonight when the Vanguards play host to Westmont, ranked third in the NAIA national poll.
The unranked Vanguards extended No. 10 The Master’s College to overtime Saturday before losing, 5-3, and SCC Coach David McLeish is hoping for a breakthrough victory.
“I think we’re up there in the top three in the district, if not that then at least the top four,” McLeish said. “We sure will find out Thursday night.”
Westmont (7-0-1, 3-0 in the Golden State Athletic Conference) is a well-balanced team that relies on a strong defense. Leading scorer Benny Bayr of Munich, Germany, has only four goals and two assists, but goalkeeper Aldon Cole has allowed only three goals and has shut out six of the Warriors’ eight opponents. Three shutouts have come against Westmont’s toughest opponents thus far: UC Santa Barbara, a NCAA Division I program; Grand Canyon, a nationally ranked Division II team, and The Master’s. Westmont and The Master’s tied, 0-0.
The Vanguards (4-5, 2-0) are also well-balanced. Leading scorer Chris Chaparro, a sophomore from El Paso, Tex., has six goals and Jorge Perez, a freshman from Santa Ana High, and Lance Barker, a junior from Orange Coast College and Marina High, each has three goals and three assists.
McLeish said he is bullish on this team’s chances because it is his most talented squad in seven seasons as coach. At least six players come from teams that played for Southern Section or community college state titles, including Perez, his brother, Hector, and Martin Cervantes at Santa Ana, defender Peter Schumerth (Esperanza), defender Jason Allen (Corona) and Barker (OCC).
SCC has made the NAIA District 3 playoffs in four of the last six seasons but has lost in the first round each time. McLeish is hoping to take a step further this time.
“We think we can do it this year,” McLeish said. “It’s just going to take us awhile to get things going.”
SCC is one of the few District 3 teams to play its home games at night. The college installed lights on the field last year and McLeish believes they give his team an advantage while giving the sport increased exposure.
“College soccer in the afternoon in the middle of the week gets no attention at all,” he said. “We basically try to present the sport to the community by playing it at a time when it’s available to them.”
About 400, 100 short of capacity, showed up for the Vanguards’ conference-opening 6-0 victory over Concordia. Tonight’s game will start at 7.
In a move to strengthen the role of NAIA conferences, such as the Golden State Athletic Conference, the NAIA Council of Presidents voted, 262-58, Tuesday at a convention in Atlanta to scrap its 32-district system.
When the new system is in place, conferences with at least six schools will receive automatic bids to the national tournament for their champions. Currently, district champions advance in most sports.
At-large berths will continue to be available, but the move is expected to cause NAIA independents, such as Biola and The Master’s, to consider joining a conference.
Details of the plan were still being worked Wednesday, but NAIA spokesman Peter Logan said if it were to begin this school year, it would only affect the national basketball tournaments.
Home again . . . sort of: The Chapman men’s soccer team, displaced from its on-campus stadium while new sod takes root, played host to its first soccer games of the season last week--at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.
The Panthers (7-2-2) picked up two easy victories, 9-0 over Christian Heritage and 4-0 over Colorado Colorado Springs. Armando Orizaba, a junior forward from Katella High, scored five goals and had an assist in the two games to give him 10 goals and six assists for the season.
Sophomore goalkeeper Craig Bennett recorded his third consecutive shutout and fourth of the year Saturday against Colorado Springs. Bennett, who missed all of last season with a knee injury he suffered in the first game, has allowed only 12 goals in 11 games this season.
The women’s soccer team is also on a roll, having won or tied five of its last six games. Last week, Chapman (5-2-2) beat Redlands, 3-0, and Whittier, 3-0. Carey Wright, a junior forward who scored nine goals last season, scored two last week.