Nov. 14, 2009

LOS ANGELES - Cal State L.A.'s men's soccer team won a wild one Friday night to advance to the NCAA Division II West Region championship game for the third time in four years.

The Golden Eagles scored the final two goals of the game to beat Cal State San Bernardino, 5-3, Friday night at Jesse Owens Track. Cal State L.A. (18-3-1) got a three-goal hat trick from Aza Gomez and two goals from Federico Cino to finally subdue a talented Cal State San Bernardino squad.

The Coyotes (15-6-1), the No. 4 seed, tied the game in the 78th minute on a penalty kick by Obi Agwu, but Cal State L.A., the No. 1 seed and ranked seventh in the nation, recovered quickly and Gomez netted his third goal of the night when he pounced on a rebound right in front of the Coyote goal and knocked it into the net.

Cino's second goal of the night in the 88th minute finally secured the win for the Golden Eagles.

Cal State L.A. will now face defending national champion Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sunday for the West Region championship in a rematch of last year's regional final won by the Toros.

Cal State Dominguez Hills blanked Sonoma State, 3-0, in the early game on Friday.

Cal State L.A. beat Cal State San Bernardino for the third time this season and this one was definitely the wildest contest. The Golden Eagles enjoyed a 22-13 advantage in shots and a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks. Cal State San Bernardino goalie Arath De La Rocha made five saves, while Cal State L.A. goalie Jose Martinez made three saves.

Both goalies came up huge in a three-minute span in the second half with the Golden Eagles clinging to a 3-2 lead. Arthur Bahr had a shot for Cal State L.A. hit the left goalpost and teammate Erik Vargas got to the rebound and De La Rocha made a sensational first stop from point-blank range. Vargas, while on the ground, got a second attempt at a goal, but De La Rocha was able to stop that, too, with 22 minutes remaining in the game.

The Coyotes responded with a golden chance by Danny Rodriguez, who drilled a shot from outside the box that seemed destined for the left corner of the goal. Martinez, though, made a fully-extended dive to deflect the ball away from the goal.

The Coyotes finally got the equalizer about five minutes later when Cal State L.A. was whistled for a hand ball in the box. Agwu connected for his 11th goal of the season to tie it at 3-3.

That set the stage for Gomez on a play started by Brennen Brodersen. Brodersen sent a hard shot toward the net that was deflected in front. Gomez got there first and from right on the doorstop knocked it home for the go-ahead goal.

Cino capped the scoring when he got to a loose ball with De La Rocha out of the net and lobbed it into the open goal. It was Cino's 12th goal of the season.

The first half, too, featured plenty of fireworks. Rodriguez gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute. DJ Vigil sent a cross into the box and Rodriguez headed it into the left corner of the goal.

Cal State L.A., though, scored the next three goals to take a 3-1 lead. Gomez headed in a cross from Mauricio Barrett in the 26th minute to tie it and, less than a minute later, headed in a corner kick from Kristian Gaustad to give the Golden Eagles the lead.

Cino made it 3-1 in the 31st minute when he headed in another corner kick from Gaustad.

Cal State San Bernardino, though, cut the margin to 3-2 in the 42nd minute on a goal by Mark Peters, who headed in a corner kick from Brock Steele.

That's how the score remained until the penalty kick by Agwu tied it and the goals by Gomez and Cino won it for Cal State L.A.

Cal State L.A. will host Cal State Dominguez Hills for the regional title on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Jesse Owens Track.