Taft Midway Driller
By Dennis McCall
VENTURA - Taft College's resurgent soccer season ended in heartbreak here Friday with a shootout loss to southern California powerhouse Mt. San Antonio in the semi-finals of the state championships.
After earning a trip to the Final Four with a penalty-kick victory over Hartnell College, the Cougars found themselves on the other end of a pressure-cooker finish.
"Our boys played so tough," said head coach Angelo Cutrona, who took a team to the Final Four for the sixth time in 11 seasons.
When the Cougars won the state title in 2007 they made it to the title game by beating Mt. SAC on PK's. The Mounties turned the tables this time.
Mt. SAC, which had lost in the semi-finals the last three seasons, needed penalty kicks on Sunday to beat Fresno City College and win its fifth state crown. The Mounties have reached the state finals in each of the last 11 years.
Fresno, champions of the Central Valley Conference with Taft taking second, had lost but one match on its trip to the state finals and that was to the Cougars. The teams played to a scoreless tie in their other conference match.
Cutrona said he felt Fresno should have had an edge in the final after watching how the Mounties played against Taft.
"I think the way we played Mt. SAC gave them an advantage," he said.
But then, Mt. SAC is to California soccer what Alabama is to college football.