Two conflicting styles of soccer were on display at Santa Barbara City College, as well as the programs responsible for the last three Western State Conference titles. Oxnard College defeated SBCC 2-1 in the WSC opener for both teams.
From the start, the Vaqueros tried to utilize their size and speed advantages, playing balls over the top of the Condor defense. Center forward Stanley Duran was targeted most often, and was able to run by Oxnard defenders to create several chances, but no goals.
Oxnard kept the ball on the ground and established a clear advantage in possession. The midfielders and strikers made creative runs into space, often causing the Santa Barbara defenders to lose track of them.
“We just wanted to play our game and they wanted to play their game ,” Oxnard head coach Ross Greaney said. “And that is our game, movement and passing the ball on the ground.”
In a physical first half where the referee let both teams play and called little, the Condors struck first in the 32nd minute. Oxnard was able to possess the ball in the midfield, and pick out sophomore striker Urbano Centeno on the right side of the field. Centeno cut the ball back onto his left foot, and curled a shot into the far side of the goal, and his team led 1-0 at the half.
The Condors came flying into the second half and doubled their lead just three minutes in. Left forward Sigifredo Torres lost his marker by making a run to the right side of the penalty box, then received a back pass and needed only one touch to put the ball into the upper corner of the net.
With a two goal lead, Oxnard dropped their players back, and settled in on defense.
“With their kind of speed, it allowed us not to have to come forward,” Greaney said about his team building a lead. “We could possess, but we didn’t have to actually come forward with the possession and leave space behind.”
The referee started to call the match tighter than he had in the first half. This, in addition to Oxnard’s defensive style led a to visible frustration from the Santa Barbara players.
The Vaqueros were able to fight back a get a late goal off a corner kick from Jordan Tabor. Santa Barbara had been winning balls in the air all night, and midfielder Efrain Olvera was finally able to put one in the back of the net in the 85th minute.
The Condors’ (5-1-2) defense protected the lead for their fourth consecutive win.
The Vaqueros (3-1-3) suffered their first loss of the season and look forward to their next conference match at home against Glendale.
“Championships are not won and lost in the first game of the season,” head coach John Sisterson said. “We’ve another 13 games to play, and we’ll build on that.”