Men's Soccer: OCC burned, competes on road

Sanctions that forced the Orange Coast College men's soccer team to remove a contest from its schedule proved costly when the Pirates, who won their first Orange Empire Conference title since 1991, learned on Tuesday they are the No. 9 seed for the 16-team Southern California Regional playoffs that begin Saturday.

OCC (10-5-4), on a nine-game unbeaten streak that included five straight OEC wins, is on the road against No. 8-seeded Rio Hondo (12-4-5) at a site to be determined at 2 p.m.

Sanctions imposed by the conference forcing each OCC team to drop one game from its schedule had severe ramifications for men's soccer, which awards postseason seedings on the basis of a power-point rankings system.

Since bylaws specific to soccer make it mandatory to forfeit any game dropped from the schedule (a rule in place to discourage coaches from dropping late-season contests to manipulate their power-point rankings), OCC's power rankings were negatively affected by forfeiting its canceled match against Los Angeles Harbor.

If the game would have been allowed to not count against OCC, the Pirates would have had a power ranking good enough to be seeded No. 6, according to OCC officials. If OCC had played the match and won, it would have been seeded No. 2, which would have meant a first-round bye. If it had played the match and lost, it would have been seeded No. 7.

Instead, it gets a road date in the opening round, and, if victorious, a second-round matchup at top-seeded Mt. San Antonio (14-3-4), which gets one of the two first-round byes.

OCC, coached by assistant Glenn Strachan (OCC Director of Soccer Kevin Smith focuses on the women's team) is led by sophomore forward Jorge Sanchez, a Costa Mesa High product who has eight goals and six assists.

Sophomore Thales Serra has seven goals and five assists, while sophomore Tyler Rios has six goals and two assists for OCC.

Freshman goalkeeper Nathan Brown has posted an 0.78 goals-against average and five shutouts for OCC, which has blanked seven opponents this season.

— Barry Faulkner

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