Men's soccer closes out the regular season with a convincing 5-1 win over the University of California-Merced and earn the #4 seed in the conference championship tournament.
Riverside, Calif. - The Golden Eagles were looking to stay in the Cal Pac playoff race, but they only had control of part of their destiny. The team entered today's match tied with Soka University in the South Division conference standings. With the top two seeds in the Cal Pac men's soccer championships already wrapped up, a win by the Golden Eagles over UC Merced and a loss by Soka who played at Embry Riddle this afternoon, would prove to be the best-case scenario for La Sierra. Fortunately, for the Golden Eagles, that is exactly how it played out.
La Sierra was also looking to send their seniors off on a good note, the team made sure to take care of the first step in the playoff scenario, by using consistent pressure and finishing the majority of their scoring opportunities.
Dakota Shelton's goal in the ninth minute gave the Golden Eagles an early 1-0 lead. Shelton pounced on a ball at the top of the box that ricocheted off some bodies, in front of the Bobcats goalkeeper Heriberto Diaz, and found the back of the net.
Jordan Davis pushed the lead to 2-0 when senior forward Kenneth Henry found Davis on a nice cross from the right side.
The Bobcats answered back just three minutes later when Kevin Quintanilla scored Merced's only goal of the afternoon, on an assist from Silvano De Jesus in the 29th minute.
La Sierra took a 3-1 lead into the halftime break, when Edgar Padilla scored an unassisted goal, when he crushed a loose rebound from the top of the box into the back of the net.
In the second half, Jonas Ornelas picked up an unassisted goal in the 50th minute to push the lead to 4-1.
Shelton scored his second goal of the match two great assists from Davis and Padilla. Padilla headed Davis' throw-in, that found the foot of Shelton who controlled the pass, spun, and connected from point blank range.
Goalkeeper Roberto Rodriquez kept busy, thwarting the handful of attempts the Bobcats could muster. He finished with four excellent saves on the afternoon, while giving up just one goal.
Prior to the contest, the Golden Eagles honored their eight senior who played in their final home contest. Darren Bonanken, Sid Dube, Kenneth Henry, Jonas Ornelas, Joel Hernandez, Ruben Solis, Jordan Davis, and Roman Santiago were each recognized for their contribution and commitment to the men's soccer program, the Golden Eagles athletic department and La Sierra University.
The team now had to await the outcome of the Embry Riddle versus Soka match that started around the same time the Golden Eagles match concluded. Even though the win over Merced might have done enough to earn them a spot in the playoffs, it would not become official until the final word came in.
Soon after Embry-Riddle's 2-1 win over Soka, the Cal Pac Conference sent out a release making it official. Using the NAIA "Modified Ratings Percentage Index" (MRPI), it was confirmed that Embry-Riddle had secured the #3 seed and La Sierra earned the #4 seed, the final two spots in the Cal Pac men's soccer championship tournament.
La Sierra (8-8, 8-5 Cal Pac) will travel to Prescott, Arizona, site of the conference championship tournament this coming Friday, to face the #1 seed, Marymount California. The Mariners, currently ranked No. 25 in the nation, finished the season with a Cal Pac record of 12-1 (14-3 overall). They defeated the Golden Eagles in both meetings this season. Friday's match is scheduled to kick off at 1:30pm.