Dec. 7, 2008

 

Courtesy of Cal St. Dominguez Hills

Tampa, FL -- It's official.  Cal State Dominguez Hills is the best team in the nation.  Riding a Brian Alvarez goal in the 28th minute and a stellar defense, the Toros posted their 14th shutout of the season in a dominating 3-0 win over Dowling University to give CSUDH its 2nd NCAA Title in the program's history and first since 2000.

The Toros dominated from the start of the contest, outshooting the Golden Lions 12-2 in the early going, including a 5-0 edge in shots on goal.  The scoreless tie evaporated in the 28th minute as Alvarez took a feed in front of the Dowling goal and blasted his shot off the keeper's chest from about 12 yards out.  

Collecting the ensuing rebound, Alvarez settled the ball after a bounce, and guided his second shot through three defenders and to the left of diving Golden Lion keeper Nemanja Veljovic, whose 6'6 frame wasn't long enough to stop the one-hopper.

That's where the score remained until the second half when the Toros added a pair of goals to put any hopes of a Dowling comeback attempt to rest.

Junior midfielder Andrew Marinez found himself dribbling uncontested in the 68th minute, and received the back end of a perfectly executed give-and-go before shuttling his shot past Veljovic's right for a 2-nil lead.

Junior midfielder Hiram Rangel then put the proverbial icing on the cake less than 10 minutes later by rocketing his blast to the upper far post after a feed from Mario Guerrero, setting off a wild celebration on the Toro sidelines and in the stands, where approximately 100 supporters made their way from southern California and Anchorage, Alaska to Pepin Stadium to witness history.

CSUDH, which finishes the season at 21-2-4, got hot at the right time as the Toros posted a 13-game unbeaten streak to end 2008, which included five-consecutive wins in a dominant NCAA postseason in which they outscored their opponents 15-3, and posted 3 wins via shutout.

In the NCAA postseason, the Toros posted a 3-0 win over 25th-ranked Notre Dame de Namur in the first round (Nov. 13), and followed that with a 4-0 victory over 18th-ranked Cal State L.A. (Nov. 15) to claim the West Region title before taking out 3rd-ranked Midwestern State, 2-1, in a heart-stopping and foggy night in Carson (Nov. 22) to advance to the NCAA semifinals in Tampa.

Here, they disposed of host and 11th-ranked Tampa University 3-2 in overtime on Friday night before blasting Dowling to win the National Championship.

Symbolically, the final 3-0 tally was a perfect ending for this year's squad after dedicating its season to former Toro Jaret "JT" Minami, whose jersey number 3 was affixed to the left sleeve prior to the season's first game, and worn throughout the year.

A standout player for head coach Joe Flangan and the Toros from 2002-05, Minami passed away on August 3 at Torrance Memorial Hospital at the age of 25.  JT made 47 starts in 61 games played in his career, capping a four-year stint with 1st-team NSCAA All-Region and 2nd-team All-CCAA honors during his senior season.

In that memorable campaign, the backbone of CSUDH’s defensive unit helped lead the Toros to the NCAA Division II West Region Title and the NCAA D-II Quarterfinals, eventually falling to host and eventual National Champion Fort Lewis College.

This marks the second NCAA National Title for the Cal State Dominguez Hills men's soccer program after the Toros won their first in a 2-1 four-overtime thriller over Barry University in 2000, and the third overall NCAA National Title after the 1991 women's soccer team claimed the first ever NCAA Championship.