Men’s soccer wins back-to-back league titles

Michael Mebratu and Michael Mebratu

Capt. Stuart Kirk and freshman Lee Jackson drove the men’s soccer team to clinch back-to-back Western State Conference titles with a 4-0 shutout over Hancock College Friday night.

Fans at La Playa Stadium supporting the Vaquero’s bid to win the title where not disappointed.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Jackson, a left-back. “I’ve now won a championship in my first year. We started off slow, but stuck together and the result is a championship.”

Kirk, a sophomore returning from a groin injury, scored the game’s first two goals in the first 11 minutes.

“We wanted the win. We didn’t want a joint championship (with Canyons),” Kirk said. “We knew if we scored early, it would crush their confidence.”

After two quick goals, the Vaqs were in control of the game, keeping possession and allowing few attacks from Hancock.

Jackson took advantage of the flying start and scored the third goal of the night, 15 minutes in.

“This was probably our best first half performance of the season,” assistant coach Paul Hart said. “You could tell that the boys were really motivated and hungry to win the title.”

In previous years, the Vaqueros have been known for their offensive brilliance, but Capt. Kirk said that this year their mentality has changed.

“This year we have been more defensively minded, compared to last year when we had Mark Knight,” Kirk said, referring to last season’s star striker. “But all credit to the defenses they have been absolutely fantastic.”

As the second half started, former Santa Barbara High School star Peter Aguilar launched a rocket seven yards to bump the lead to four goals at 50 minutes into the game. This closed the door on the Bulldogs for good.

The visitors had some chances to score, but nothing that goalie Ismael Guzman couldn’t handle.

As the final whistle blew, fans erupted with cheers. The Vaqs won back-to-back titles for the first time since 1995-96.

“I’m happy for the shutout, but obviously happier that we won the title,” Guzman said. The Vaqs goalkeeper had seven shutouts this season.

The team congratulated head coach John Sisterson on the win by drenching him with ice-cold water, a college tradition.

“I’m very delighted for the boys,” Sisterson said, dripping. “The key to winning the title has been trust. The coaches have trusted in the players and the players have trusted in the system.”