After 45 minutes Tuesday evening, the San Bernardino Valley College men's soccer team was all even with the defending state champions from Mt. San Antonio College.
Each team had seven shots, with Mt. SAC holding only a slight territorial advantage, but SBVC forcing Mounties' goalkeeper Jacob Cardenas to making three saves, while Wolverines' goalkeeper Anthony Petrosyan was only called on for two stops.
But in the second half, the Mounties showed why they won the state championship last year. Mt. SAC scored twice about three minutes apart, then answered a rally by the Wolverines to win 3-1 inside SBVC Stadium.
The Mounties got the scoring started in the 58th minute. Alex Mendez lifted a long ball near midfield over the SBVC defense, and the ball bounded toward the penalty area. Edward Castro ran onto the ball, beating the SBVC defense, and hit a half-volley screamer past Petrosyan from about 16 yards out to give Mt. SAC a 1-0 lead.
Regaing possession, the Mounties started to hold possession over the next few minutes, lulling the Wolverines into a defensive posture. But Mt. SAC found an opening on the right side, as Damian Esparza took the ball down the wing and sent a cross to the middle, where Mendez ran on and one-timed a shot into the net for the 2-0 lead.
SBVC pulled a goal back in the 81st minute. Ernest Lomeli worked and took over the ball on the right side of the field, and he sent the ball toward the top of the penalty area, where Isaiah Smith took control of the ball. He settled, took a step and fired a low shot through the defense that found its way into the back of the net.
At that point, Mt. SAC's starters returned to the field to quell the SBVC rally. And in the 84th minute, they did so. The ball was sent in tight, where Petrosyan was able to make a stop on an initial stop, but in the scramble for the rebound, Ivan Morales poked the ball into the net to close the scoring.
Mt. SAC ended up outshooting SBVC 11-3 in the second half. Petrosyan ended the game with three saves, while the Mounties pushed forward. The SBVC defense blocked six shots, while Mt. SAC had five corner kicks to one for the Wolverines.
SBVC hosts Long Beach inside SBVC Stadium on Friday. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff.