Nov. 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- It was deja vu all over again. After taking a 4-0 win over Cal State L.A. in last year's NCAA West Region Final en route to the NCAA Title, the Toros defended their region crown with a 1-0 win over the Golden Eagles in Los Angeles, punching their ticket to the NCAA Quarterfinal next week against the nation's top-ranked team in Fort Lewis.

The Toros, now 18-5-1, have won 12-consecutive games, with 11 of their 18 victories coming via shutout.

After a defensive battle ensued for the game's first 40 minutes, sophomore Greg Piechota (pictured) again made his offensive presence felt after collecting an Andrew Marinez feed and lofting his shot over a hard-charging CSULA keeper for the game's first score and a 1-0 lead over the hosts, the San Diego native's 8th goal in his last 5 games.

After a series of chances in the Golden Eagle zone that went for naught after deflections, saves and clears, the Toros broke through with just under 5 minutes left in the first half as Marinez collected a loose ball and found Piechota, who got behind the CSULA defense.

Seeing Golden Eagle keeper Jose Martinez leave his box, Piechota one-touched the feed and lofted his shot over Martinez's 5'10" frame and into the uncontested net for a 1-0 lead.

Earlier in the defensive struggle, the Toros looked to continue a strategy that worked wonders in Friday's 3-0 semifinal win over Sonoma State in which two Piechota headers off Marco Pulido throw-ins accounted for two of the three scores, but that combination's first effort 10 minutes into the match went for naught as CSUDH has only attempted two shots in the early going.

The Golden Eagles had their best chance with six minutes left when Hector Macias wove his way through and around five Toro defenders and found himself just outside the box with only CSUDH keeper Markus Dickerson in his way, but Macias' attempt sailed just over the crossbar to keep CSULA down 1-0.

Cal State L.A., which saw its history-making season come to an end at 18-4-1, out-shot the Toros 13-8 for the game and 5-1 in the second half, but CSUDH tallied an 8-5 edge in corners. Dickerson, who notched his 11th shutout in his first year as keeper, made 3 saves on the afternoon, altering countless other tries with his 6'4" frame and athletic ability.

CSUDH, ranked 15th and now 18-5-1, will face Fort Lewis for the first time since the 2005 NCAA quarterfinal, when the Skyhawks took a hotly-contested 3-2 win in Durango. The game site, day and time will be determined.