Two old foes met on the soccer pitch Tuesday afternoon at Hancock College.
The Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros were in Santa Maria to kick off the Western States Conference Northern Division men’s soccer season against the Hancock Bulldogs.
The Vaqueros (7-0-3, 1-0 WSC North) broke a 2-2 midway through the second half and went on to a 4-2 victory over the host Bulldogs (8-3-2, 0-1).
In a game of non-stop action, the Vaqueros kicked up the intensity in the second half with constant pressure on a game Bulldog squad to post a comeback victory.
“I thought Hancock was really, really good. They really tested us but our guys turned it around in the second half,” said SBCC associate head coach Dylan Murphy. “The difference was intensity. Our guys got their intensity level higher in the second half.”
“We played a good game. We had our chance to open the game up, we just didn’t do it,” said Hancock College head coach Billy Vinnedge. “We played a great first half and kept it up through most of the second half. It shows we’re a good team and can compete with anyone but you have to give credit to Santa Barbara — they’re undefeated for a reason.”
The Bulldogs were the more aggressive team in the first half. Most of the half was played on the Santa Barbara side of the pitch as the Bulldogs pushed the pace.
But it was the Vaqueros who broke through for the game’s first goal.
After a Hancock shot was blocked, Vaqueros goal keeper Shane Pitcock kicked the ball deep into Hancock territory. Victor Chavez got to the ball first and sent a perfect pass to Carlos Espinoza, who stepped into the ball and sent it past Hancock keeper Antony Herrera from 20 yards out for a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game.
Hancock’s Miguel Gomez took advantage of a penalty kick midway through the 45-minute half, with a blistering shot to the lower right side of Pitcock to even the score.
Seconds before halftime, Herrera made a huge save on Omar Cabana’s penalty kick to keep the game tied 1-1.
Hancock took the lead early in the second half when the Bulldogs capitalized on the Vaqueros’ offensive pressure.
SBCC’s Espinosa got the ball to Matthew Wilkinson, who got off a shot that Herrera blocked just after the half began.
With the Vaqueros tightly packed near the Hancock goal, the Bulldogs quickly — very quickly — went the other way when Migel Gomez found Ulysses Cardona racing toward the goal, hit him with a perfect pass that Cardona converted for a fast-break goal and a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the half.
The Vaqueros shook that off.
Over the next 10 minutes, Santa Barbara got off 10 shots.
Herrera and the Hancock defense were up to the challenge on the first nine.
On the 10th, Vaquero Zachary Sneddon got open on an inbounds kick and quickly fired a shot into the net to tie the score.
“Zach played a great game, Shane was excellent in goal and I thought Abiodun “Mike” Akintioye was exceptional,” said Murphy. “Hancock’s coach has really turned their program around. We have to play them one more time in the regular season. I think we could also see them again in the playoffs.”
Minutes after Sneddon's goal, the Vaqueros’ Adrian Gamez found an open Espinoza out front who netted the go-ahead goal.
In the game’s final minute, the Vaqueros’ Celso Lagunas lobbed a soft shot over Herrera that found the back of the net for the game's final score.
The Bulldogs did get off one last shot that Pitcock blocked as the final whistle sounded.
"Ulysses and Migel played great. They moved the ball really well,” said Vinnedge. “Tony made some great saves to keep us in it. The loss stings a little. I think we let this one get away from us. Santa Barbara is a good team but we’re good, too. We just have to stick together and this team is going to do some great things.
Hancock hosts Santa Monica Friday afternoon as the Bulldogs’ WSC season continues.
Orcutt Academy 16, Santa Maria 2
Orcutt Academy’s Keona Pablo made history during her team’s Los Padres League victory over Santa Maria High on the Hancock College tennis courts.
Pablo, playing at No. 1 doubles with Jana Andrade, moved into the No. 2 spot in all-time career wins for the Spartans.
With their 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 sweep, Pablo won her 169th set for Orcutt Academy, second only to 2014 graduate Zoe Hull’s 215 on the Spartans’ all-time list.
In singles, No. 1 Megan Vise and No. 2 Kayla Pablo each swept their sets with 6-0 scores across the board.
No. 3 Melani Amorasekara won her one set 6-2 before Alexis Bettancourt replaced her, going 6-2, 1-6.
Emma Valencia and Page Wells won all three set at No. 2 doubles.
Isabel Lopez and Delaney Kelley split their two sets at No. 3 doubles, going 6-1, 1-6. Hannah Kasai and Thirandi Kaluthantroge then came in and won their only set 6-2.
The Spartans will play their final home match of the regular season Thursday at the Hancock College Courts. Orcutt Academy will celebrate Senior Day when it hosts Nipomo.
The Spartans (13-3, 10-0 LPL) close out the regular season next week with three matches on the road at Santa Ynez, Cabrillo and Morro Bay.
San Luis Obispo 3, Righetti 0
Righetti fell to 5-5 in PAC 8 girls volleyball (14-14 overall) with a straight-set loss (25-23, 25-14, 25-21) at San Luis Obispo.
Jessica Powell led Righetti with 13 kills, Zane Sheckherd 11 had kills and Kailani Cabanting had one kill and three aces.
Righetti next hosts Mission Prep on Thursday.