Cuyamaca men’s soccer team overthrows Southwestern, clinching championship

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By Mary York

Three years sweating on the Cuyamaca green climaxed in the last 45 minutes of a championship game against Southwestern College Nov. 10. One of two final games for the Cuyamaca College Coyotes, the match pitted the top teams of the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference against each other, resulting in a shocking overthrow of the conference favorites.

By Mary York

Three years sweating on the Cuyamaca green climaxed in the last 45 minutes of a championship game against Southwestern College Nov. 10. One of two final games for the Cuyamaca College Coyotes, the match pitted the top teams of the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference against each other, resulting in a shocking overthrow of the conference favorites.

Trailing in the first half, the Coyotes came back with ferocious pack action to even out the game. Coyotes were 12-3-4 for the season and 7-1-2 for conference going into the penultimate game of the season.

The undefeated Southwestern College Jaguars, who were slated to win, put up an intimidating front, but their usually impenetrable defense weakened beneath the perpetual pummeling from the Coyotes’ aggressive offense. Cuyamaca’s physicality and intense play covered every inch of the field with dogfights, and the Coyotes kept coming out on top.

Brothers Sylvestre and Salvador Rivera, forward and midfield respectively, led the charge, driving the ball far into Jaguar territory and keeping it there for most of the second half.

Salvador Rivera sustained an injury after colliding with a defender near the Jag cage. He was able to walk back to his position on the field but was taken out before play resumed.

After balancing the scoreboard, the Coyotes were infused with a fresh determination to win and brought in another score. Cuyamaca players lapped the field in a victory run led by Gabriel Castanares, who assisted with the second goal.

Jaguar goalie Samuel Quinones seemed spooked by the steady offensive onslaught, finding himself consistently out of position to defend the goal. 

With the game clock ticking down to its final minutes, Cuyamaca scored a third goal, leaving Jag players moaning on the field and Coyote fans howling in the stands. The Jags never recovered.

Even with a second goal scored in stoppage time, SWC could not make up the lost ground.

Cuyamaca ran off the field with the win and the prestigious claim to being the only team to score more than three goals on the Jaguars and beat them on their home turf this season.

“Championship games usually are pretty intense and provide a lot of drama,” said Cuyamaca’s Head Coach Brian Hiatt-Aleu. “That’s what we had today. Down 1-nothing at half time, and basically the next 45 minutes defined all the hard work we did this season.”

Cuyamaca’s squad has been working to reel in this win for a while now, said Hiatt-Aleu. 

“We’ve been really close the first two years, finishing in second place,” he said. “Now with one game left, we’re the champs.” 

Because Cuyamaca is not the most central community college in San Diego, Hiatt-Aleu said they work hard to make the program attractive to team hopefuls. The players who do come are asked to work hard, he said, calling them resilient, persistent and committed.

“We’ve just prepared really well,” he said. “We’ve done the fitness during the off-season, we’ve provided a system to give success to the type of players that we have and the players have bought into that and really worked hard for one another and these are the fruits of our labors right here.”

Fitness for the Coyotes includes Saturday and sometimes Sunday practices, said Sylvestre Rivera, but the win against Southwestern was worth it.

“They beat us at our home,” he said. “So we thought, okay, now we’re going to beat them at their home.”

Castanares attributed the team’s success to their ability to function as a unit.

“Consistency, unity and teamwork really come into play,” he said. “Like coach said, it’s not all individuals, it’s a team thing.” 

Cuyamaca played their last conference game against San Diego City College on Friday, November 13, winning 4-2 and officially earning themselves the title of conference champions.

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