The Hornets kept their season afloat Tuesday in a well played 4-1 victory at Irvine Valley College.
In their first conference win of the season, Fullerton played like a well-oiled machine.
They controlled the ball for the majority of the match, played tight team defense, and finished plays. The man finishing 3 out of 4 of those goal-scoring plays was Brian Jacquez. It was the first hat trick of the season for a Fullerton player, and he’s glad to have it on the day of a big win.
The match swung in Fullerton’s favor early. After some initial probing by both teams, the ball fell to Hornet midfielder William Rodriguez who sent the ball into the offensive zone from 45 yards out. The ball soared right over the keeper’s outstretched hands and gave Fullerton a 1-0 lead. The highlight reel goal set the tone for the rest of the match.
As the first half carried on without any goals, one thing was abundantly clear. Every Fullerton player could be heard.
“Communication was a big focus for us,” said Alex Perez, head coach. “We’ve worked on that a lot all season, and it showed today.”
Nearly every single time a Hornet touched the ball near an opposing player, the whole crowd could hear, “Man on!” from at least one teammate, if not multiple. The defense could be heard shouting which men to mark all over their own zone. That thorough, consistent communication allowed the Hornets (3-4-3) to play under control all match.
Early on in the second half, Fullerton was able to win a penalty kick after a corner kick resulted in a hand ball called on a Laser defender. Up stepped Jacquez, who buried the penalty in the lower left corner.
Just 6 minutes later, Irvine Valley (2-5-3) was able to stymie the landslide on a well-finished 35 yard send from midfielder Fayiz Darvish. That would prove to be the extent of the Lasers comeback.
The rest of the match would be controlled by the Hornets.
“We’ve had the chance to make excuses all season,” said Armando Corral, Hornets captain. “But today we didn’t. We paid attention to the details. Each goal gave us confidence.”
Though each goal seemed to ratchet up the intensity of the match as well. When asked about the physicality of the game, which contained 23 fouls and 5 yellow cards split nearly evenly, Perez and Corral both laughed.
“This was nothing compared to some of our other matches,” Perez said.
There was little laughter on the Laser side of the field after the match.
“It was our worst performance of the season,” said Kevin Yep, Irvine Valley captain. “We got dominated on both sides of the ball.”
The Laser players also understood that they ran into the Hornets on a day where they were really on their game.
“We couldn’t seem to shut down their forwards. They played really well throughout,” said Alan Anaya a forward for the Lasers. The Hornets will hope to keep that strong play carrying on into their next few matches.
Fullerton will host Norco College on Friday as they enter two weeks of inter-conference play. The following game will be against rival team Santa Ana on Tuesday, and players are already looking ahead to that match.
“We’ve got some big matches coming up, like that game against Santa Ana,” Corral said. “We’ve got to contain our emotions through the next couple games and leave with some wins.”
Those emotions are surely conjuring up some smiles for the Hornets after such a big conference win.