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Chavez’s hat trick vaults Vaqueros into Regional Finals, 4-2

Victor Chavez eludes Oxnard goalkeeper Matthew Escareno to score the second of his three goals. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Victor Chavez eludes Oxnard goalkeeper Matthew Escareno to score the second of his three goals. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Victor Chavez recorded a hat trick on Tuesday afternoon and SBCC overcame an early goal to beat Oxnard for the third time this year, 4-2, in the second round of the Southern Cal Regional men's soccer playoffs.

The No. 3-seeded Vaqueros won their seventh straight to remain unbeaten on the season (17-0-4). The No. 14 Condors finish with a 14-8-1 record.

Oxnard struck early with Conor Daly scoring at 2:33 on a back flick header off a 36-yard free kick from Francisco Arroyo.

SBCC goalie Shane Pitcock was injured on the play and had to be replaced by Patrick Mahon. The freshman from Westlake High in Thousand Oaks had only played 29 minutes all year. He was outstanding for the last 87 minutes, making five saves, including a leaping one-hander to prevent a goal in the 76th minute.

"This is one of the only soccer teams I've played on where the second-string keeper is arguably good enough to be first string," said freshman defender Zachary Sneddon. "We showed a lot of faith in Pat and he made a couple of great saves. He's good with his feet and his hands are perfect."

Chavez, a sophomore forward from Garden Street Academy, evened the score, 1-1, just 3:07 later. Matthew Wilkinson made a clever cross back over his head from the left side and Chavez settled the ball and beat the keeper to the top left.

In the 15th minute, Jessie Jimenez delivered a long, high lead pass to a streaking Chavez. He dribbled around the goalie and scored into an open net for a 2-1 lead. That was his second goal in 7½ minutes.

"I didn't think I'd get a hat trick but the past couple of games, I've been missing way too many so I knew it was possible," said Chavez. "Matty and I crossed each other and he already knew where I was going to be, even though his back was turned. He chipped a through ball over two players and I got the first goal."

Chavez got his hat trick at the 53:25 mark when Adrian Gamez sent him a short pass and he beat the keeper to the right side. Chavez is fourth in the state with 16 goals and 38 points.

"It feels really good to beat Oxnard," said Chavez. "I knew it was going to be a difficult game, playing them for the third time. We had the quality and we have the hard work."

Oxnard cut the deficit to 3-2 at 68:38 when Arroyo converted a penalty kick.

The Vaqueros added an insurance tally 3½ minutes later in the 72nd minute. Carlos Espinosa delivered the assist to Ameyawu Muntari, who raced up the left side and scored his eighth goal of the year.

There were 10 yellow cards with six going to Oxnard.

"We knew it would be like that because Oxnard wanted to prove they could beat the Western State Conference champions and move on in the playoffs," said SBCC coach John Sisterson. "They scored another early goal just like they did in our regular-season game here. The boys came back very well.

"I thought Victor should have had a few more last game. It's great to see him get a hat trick."

The Vaqueros will travel to No. 2 Mt. San Antonio (18-4-2) for a Regional Finals game on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Mounties tied No. 7 Irvine Valley 1-1, then advanced on penalty kicks, 4-2.

Saturday's winner will earn a spot in the CCCAA State Championships on Dec. 1-3 at American River College in Sacramento.