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Kwizera scores twice in 4-0 home-opening victory

Kevin Kwizera tries to get past a defender in Friday's home opener. Kwizera scored two goals in a 4-0 shutout. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Kevin Kwizera tries to get past a defender in Friday's home opener. Kwizera scored two goals in a 4-0 shutout. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

It's a long way from Bujumbura, Burundi to Santa Barbara and Kevin Kwizera is getting a kick out of it.

The 6-3 sophomore forward scored two goals on Friday as SBCC blanked San Diego Mesa 4-0 in its men's soccer home opener at La Playa Stadium. The Vaqueros are 2-0 and they've outscored their opponents 7-1.

Kwizera made the 9,500-mile trek from Africa to SBCC in 2016 and scored five goals in nine games before suffering a season-ending injury. This year, he has three goals in two games.

"I started fast in 2016 and now I'm back and ready to go," said Kwizera. "We played much better than the first game. We have a lot of good players, so we need to stay focused and have a lot of discipline."

The Vaqueros are coming off a 17-1-4 season that ended with a 1-0 loss at Mt. SAC in the State quarterfinals. SBCC is ranked No. 9 in the nation in the United Soccer Coaches JC Division 3 preseason poll.

The Vaqueros are unbeaten in their last 24 regular-season games (18-0-6) and they're 11-0-2 at home in the last two seasons.

Ameyawu Muntari got Santa Barbara going in the eighth minute, taking a cross from Sadiki Johnson and blasting in a 22-yard shot. The Vaqueros led 1-0 at halftime.

Kwizera made it 2-0 at 50:02, using his left foot to beat the keeper from short range after an excellent high across-the-field pass from Adrian Gamez. In the 63rd minute, Kwizera intercepted a back-pass toward the goalie and scored into an open net.

Celso Lagunas, a sophomore forward from Santa Barbara High, entered the game in the 39th minute and needed just 20 seconds to get off a dangerous shot that bounced high off the right post. He had several other solid scoring chances, then found the net in the 89th minute after a back-heel pass from Jose Abitia.

"It was great to start our home season with a win and keep a clean sheet," said coach John Sisterson. "And it was nice to get all the boys on the bench into the game. We were very creative going forward and it was a step up from Tuesday's game."

Goalie Lukas Schuh, a freshman from Germany, posted his first college shutout and the defense limited the Olympians (0-2) to 10 shots and only two on-goal. The Vaqueros tried 23 shots with 10 on-target.

"We're going to create chances with this group with Kevin, Muntari, Sadiki and Celso," stated Sisterson, who's starting his 12th season as men's coach. "Kevin is always going to be a threat, he's a little bit of a goal-poacher. He's in the right place at the right time and so is Muntari."

SBCC will host Glendale in "The Battle of the Vaqueros" on Tuesday at 7 p.m.