State Final Four pits Hartnell’s offense vs. SBCC’s defense


SACRAMENTO — If defense really does win championships, then SBCC should feel good about its chances in the Community College Men’s Soccer Championships this weekend.

The Vaqueros (18-1-4) will take a nine-game win streak and one of the best defenses in the state into Friday’s semifinal matchup with Hartnell. Mt. San Antonio, the No. 1 seed in the South with a 20-0-3 record, will battle CC San Francisco in the other semifinal.

Both games start at 2 p.m. on end-to-end fields at Cosumnes River College. The winners will advance to the state final on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Hartnell (18-2-3) is the top-seeded team from the North and boasts the state’s No. 1 offense, averaging 4.1 goals a game. SBCC’s defense, led by WSC MVP Roberto Santana, Ricardo Vazquez and goalie Yonha Adrabi, has only allowed 18 goals in 23 games (0.78 average).

“We can’t allow them to settle on the ball and we have to get numbers behind the ball,” said fifth-year coach John Sisterson. “Most of all, we have to be focused. It’s all about attitude.

“Roberto is a good communicator and a good leader. He gets up well in the air and he distributes it well, which is what you want from a center back. And Ricardo has slotted in very well next to him. They’ve formed a very good partnership.

“When the opposition has the ball, all 11 of our players are defenders.”

This is SBCC’s fifth trip to the Final Four and first since 1998. The last time they played in a Final Four at Cosumnes River in 1996, they brought home a state title.

The Panthers, champions of the Coast Conference South Division, have the top two scorers in the state in Max Estrada (31 goals) and Ivan Campos (22 goals, 15 assists).

“Our defense has only been getting better through the season and we have a big bond back there,” said Santana, a 6-2 sophomore. “We’re willing to take on anybody, leading scorers or not.

“It’s a big accomplishment to get to the Final Four. I think we can definitely win it, if we keep playing the way we’ve been playing.“

The Vaqueros have six shutouts during their nine-game win streak. They’ve won three straight playoff games, blanking their last two opponents — Rio Hondo (3-0) and Golden West (2-0) in overtime.

The defense hasn’t allowed a goal in 221 minutes.

Duran Stanley, the Vaqueros’ top goal-scorer with 13, has four goals and an assist in the playoffs. Jordan Tabor, who handles the free kicks and corners, has 11 goals as does Rodrigo Perez.

SBCC is 8-0-2 on the road and 15-0-1 in its last 16 overall.

“Defensively, we’re good enough to shut out anyone,” said Tabor, a sophomore from Oxford, England. “We’re excited to be in the Final Four and we really want to win.”

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