Hornets start strong, but cannot put the Lasers away

Fullerton College jumped out to a big lead early on, but could not secure the win against Irvine Valley College, as the soccer match ended in a heated 3-3 tie.
Freshman midfielder Omar Ruiz comes up just short of beating Lasers freshman goalie Christopher Azarte to the ball, as Azarte did just enough to knock the pass away at Sherbeck Field on Sept. 29, 2023.
Freshman midfielder Omar Ruiz comes up just short of beating Lasers’ freshman goalie Christopher Azarte to the ball, as Azarte did just enough to knock the pass away at Sherbeck Field on Sept. 29, 2023.
Jose Vazquez

What is that saying your mom used to tell you at the dinner table? “Don’t play with your food!” The Hornets might need that small reminder from momma, as they could not capitalize on a huge lead they created early on in this match. Rather, they had to settle for a 3-3 tie to the Lasers at Sherbeck Field on Friday afternoon.

Fullerton’s sophomore super striker Misael Gonzalez was spectacular in this match, scoring goals number 10 and 11, but his play was overshadowed by the result.

At the four minute mark, Gonzalez was in the right place at the right time, ready to attack IVC on the counter thanks to a great lead pass from sophomore center back Aldo Ramirez.

The rest was a sight to behold, as Gonzalez juked out two defenders, danced with then dropped Lasers’ goalie Christopher Azarte, before easily tapping the ball in with his boot into the center of the net.

The skill was on full display early, as Gonzalez showcased not only his ability, but also his feel and knowledge of the game in his second goal.

With Fullerton College on the attack again, freshman forward Hayden Kenny had a great look at the goal from inside the box. However, instead of forcing the shot, he saw a cutting Gonzalez coming to the front of the goal.

Kenny makes the pass using his head, literally, and Gonzalez flew in for the strike to bury the ball into the lower left corner of the net, making the score Gonzlaez 2, IVC 0 before anyone had even taken a sip of their soda.

Man of the match for FC Misael Gonzalez is denied his dream of a hat trick by IVC goalie Josh Simonton, as he goes up to grab a ball played to the front of the net. (Jose Vazquez)

If your heart is already pounding from this action, the Hornets were not done yet. At the 12-minute mark, freshman midfielder Neil Sanchez found himself with the ball in space. He kept the theme of the afternoon going, making a quick move to avoid his defender before driving the ball into the back of the net, adding in a little shimmy with his teammates after the goal to celebrate.

12 minutes into this contest, Fullerton College (8-1-1, 1-0-1) was up 3-0 and looked like a well oiled machine, building off of their last match, which was a dominating win at Orange Coast College on Tuesday afternoon, where the Hornets beat the Pirates 4-0.

After the quick start, Fullerton started to sub in a variety of different bench players. This tactic seemed to stall out the Hornets’ momentum, instead of being the moment where Fullerton put Irvine Valley away for good.

Fullerton College freshman midfielder Cesar Marquez looks to create a play with the ball in traffic against Irvine Valley College. (Jose Vazquez)

The next bit of action did not come up until the 30-minute mark, where IVC leading scorer, sophomore forward Ivan Lopez, had the chance to get his Lasers on the scoreboard. He was chosen to shoot a penalty kick, and he delivered. The shot was a booming strike to the top shelf, getting the goal past Hornets’ freshman goalie Ryan Moreno-Rojas.

This match still had FC in complete control over IVC 3-1 at halftime. The Hornets were about to lose control in dramatic fashion.

Coming out of the break, the Hornets made a crucial defensive error, leaving the Lasers’ most dangerous man, Lopez, unmarked in the box. He made quick work of the defense, scoring his second goal of the match, making the score 3-2.

The momentum had completely shifted, and the discipline had as well. In just over two minutes in real time following that goal, three yellow cards were handed out, two to Fullerton’s sophomore midfielder Brian Aragon and Kenny, and the other one went to Irvine Valley’s freshman midfielder Logen Coffin.

Irvine Valley (5-2-2, 0-0-2) was completely on the attack, as Fullerton College’s defense continued to hang on and keep the Lasers from scoring. Then, the game breaking play occurred, and it was not a goal or a save.

Kenny, who is the Hornets’ second leading goal scorer, was given his second yellow card at the 82-minute mark, which equates to a red card, an ejection and a suspension from his next match.

Fullerton, who had been attacked all second half long, now needed to play with 10 men for the final eight minutes plus stoppage time to secure the win.

Hornets’ sophomore defender and captain Angel Sevillano battles Lasers’ sophomore forward Fred Becovic as he tries to clear out this corner kick from IVC in the second half. (Jose Vazquez)

The Hornets, on the brink of surviving this hardship, finally cracked. The Lasers looked to strike again in the box at the 92-minute mark. The first shot was saved, but the rebound was drilled into the back of the net by sophomore forward Grant Miller for the equalizer.

Hornet defenders dropped to the floor, as Miller and his teammates ran across the pitch to their bench to celebrate. The teams finished out the final two minutes of stoppage time, and the game ended in a draw, 3-3.

The fireworks did not end with Miller’s game-tying goal. Once the final whistle sounded, Lasers’ sophomore midfielder Jacob Edwards walked up to Hornets’ sophomore defender Alexis Tamayo with plenty to say. After some jawing back and forth between the two, the conversation got heated between multiple players as well as members of both coaching staffs as the benches cleared.

Once the dust settled, no punches were thrown, just a lot of shouting matches between different groups on the pitch at midfield, with Irvine Valley players puffing their chests and Fullerton players looking dejected, despite neither team actually winning or losing in this tie.

Fullerton freshman midfielder Garrett Eikermann desperately pushes the ball up the right side of the pitch to try and break the 3-3 tie in the closing minutes against Irvine Valley. (Jose Vazquez)

Fullerton College head coach Greg Aviles was not happy with the way his team closed out the first and second halves.

“We just didn’t close out the way we should. We just took our foot off the gas and didn’t prove we are the better team,” said Aviles.

Fullerton College will look to bounce back in another OEC matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 3 p.m. as the Hornets will face the Santa Ana College Dons (5-2-2, 1-0-1) on the road.

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