The De Anza College men’s soccer team endured overtime and penalties for a second straight game as it was able to beat school rivals West Valley College 7-6 in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 full time score on Saturday Nov. 29.
With the win the Dons advanced to the state championships and are one of four teams competing for the title.
With three minutes left in the second half of overtime, head coach Rusty Johnson subbed in freshman goalkeeper and penalty specialist Carlos Mendez. The Dons’ players only missed one penalty and Mendez blocked two of West Valley’s penalties, giving the Dons the win.
“I was told, I was going to go in for penalties,” Mendez said. “I just have to be mentally prepared from the start to the end. We got to go in it and win it for the team.”
When the Dons converted the last penalty, the bench and the bleachers cleared as everyone ran onto the field to celebrate the team’s victory and advancement to the final four.
After the game, Johnson gave the team a speech about how great they did, but also told them to stay humble and let them know they can’t stop improving as a team.
“That is a very f—ing good team, but we are going see better teams where we are going, you have to believe that we are here for a f—ing reason,” Johnson said. “We are here for more.”
A huge effort from freshman midfielder Josue Mendoza allowed the Dons to maintain balance and distribute the ball evenly.
“Everyone gave it 150 percent, we touched the ball well, we controlled the mid[field],” Mendoza said. “We just got to keep it through the final four, get to that state championship and make history again.”
With the win, the Dons took revenge on the team that handed them their only loss of the regular season.
The next playoff game for De Anza is on Friday Dec. 5 at Mount San Antonio College starting at 4 p.m. The final results of the playoff games can be viewed at http://www.cccaasports.org/sports/msoc/2014-15/schedule