Three first half goals from visiting Irvine Valley College dug a deep hole for Fullerton to overcome, while missed opportunities ultimately doomed the Hornets’ comeback attempt.
The Lasers mounted pressure on the Hornets as soon as the opening whistle sounded. Irvine Valley kept the ball deep in Hornet territory for the majority of the first half.
The Lasers’ Conor Elder scored in the 20th minute making it 1-0. Five minutes later they scored on a Jose Rivera corner kick putting them up 2-0. Then in the 27th minute a Jose Gamboa free-kick made the first half score 3-0.
In a matter of seven minutes, the Hornets had put themselves in a 3-0 hole.
Although stranded on defense the majority of the game, the Hornets had their chances. In the sixth minute, the Hornets had a shot sail over the goal. Then on a free-kick in the 12th minute just outside the penalty area, Bryan Pacheco served in nicely, but the shot was headed high over the crossbar by Eduin Munguia. Finally, the Hornets missed a shot attempt that flew wide right of the goal in the 18th minute.
“This year the ball hasn’t been rolling our way,” said Alex Perez, Hornets’ head coach. “If we can finish our chances and opportunities we have at the beginning, maybe the outcomes end up a bit differently.”
While the Hornets could have just rolled over and given up the game, they showed heart by applying some pressure of their own and tried to mount a second half comeback.
Pacheco and Munguia teamed up again in the 80th minute, this time finding the back of the net to put the Hornets on the board and cut the deficit to 3-1.
“We just wanted to do it for Coach Alex and No.5 Ronnie Cruz, it’s his last game with us,” said Pacheco. “We just told ourselves lets just do it for them and keep working hard until the end.”
While they fought admirably, the Hornets gave up an 85th minute goal to Lasers’ forward Kendrick Nguyen that proved to be the dagger and seal the game 4-1.
The Hornets (3-11-2, 3-5-2) head south to play Golden West (9-2-4, 5-1-2) on Friday at 3 p.m. They will return home next Tuesday at 3 p.m. to face Cypress College.