The Hornets were able to get goals from Leonardo Medrano-Morales and Jose Gutierrez to extend their season best winning streak to three.
For the first 44 minutes of Tuesday’s Orange Empire Conference battle between the Hornets and Hawks, it seemed to be a game of missed opportunities. Each squad was able to control the ball yet neither were fortunate enough to capitalize during their possessions. Missed shots and close calls seemed to doom both sides.
That all changed in the 45th minute when the Hornets’ Ruben Navarro served in a nice pass to Medrano-Morales who had a step on the Hawk’s defender.
Knowing he was beat, Santiago Canyon’s Evan Morales was forced to pull on Medrano-Morales in hopes of saving his team from a 1-0 deficit. While this could’ve been a smart play at the time, it forced the referee to issue him a red card and gave the Hornets a free kick only a couple yards outside the penalty box.
The Hornet’s Navarro would capitalize on the Hawk’s error sending a perfectly struck free kick just out of the keeper’s reach, off of the crossbar leaving an open net and easy header for Medrano-Morales.
“I saw it going in but apparently it didn’t,” laughed Navarro. “I’ll take the assist though.”
The Hornets headed into halftime with the momentum and the lead, 1-0.
While the Hawks would have to play a man down in the second half due to the red card, nobody seemed to tell them that. They were able to apply pressure on the Hornets and keep the game competitive until the very end.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, their time spent playing a man down overcame them and the Hornets were able to tack on an insurance goal by Jose Gutierrez in the 80th minute and sealed their victory on Tuesday.
Although the Hornets’ season hasn’t gone as well as planned, the last few games have given the team a season best win streak and something to play for. Finishing the season on a high note would give the Hornets something to look forward to next year.
“We’ve been relaxed and just having fun,” said head coach Alex Perez. “It’s been key to this win streak that we’ve been on.”
Perez said he’s looking forward to seeing his team end the season on the right track and that next year’s team should be “ten times better,” with the freshman that he will have returning.
The Hornets (6-12-2, 4-7-2) will travel to Orange Coast College (9-9-5, 8-5) for the season finale Friday at 3 p.m.