Fast start fuels Hartnell to 3-0 win over Cypress and CCCAA Women's Soccer Championship

Hartnell College claimed the CCCAA Women's Soccer Championship. (Richard Quinton)
Hartnell College claimed the CCCAA Women's Soccer Championship. (Richard Quinton)

Tournament Central

WALNUT - Hartnell College women's soccer coach Ivan Guerrero and Panthers standout Jasmin Castillo said the feeling of winning the CCCAA Championship on Sunday morning was indescribable. Since it was the program's first-ever state championship, that sentiment made sense. But what both couldn't deny was it was a feeling they were enjoying trying to find the words to describe. 

Castillo scored two goals, tallying three in Hartnell's two wins this weekend, as Hartnell scored three times in the firste half en route to a 3-0 win over Cypress College, the top seed from the Southern California region. Belinda Ascencio tallied the other goal for the Panthers, who finished their season with a 22-2-2 record. The Chargers enjoyed a magnificent season as well, finishing 20-2-2.

"It feels so unreal," Castillo, a freshman from Watsonville said. "I don't know how to describe it because there's been moments throughout the season where I've cost a couple goals and I've missed many. Throughout the season, I only had three goals. I got to put three in these past two games. It feels so unreal because the goals come when you let them come to you."

Ascencio got the scoring going for Hartnell in just the 16th minute, taking a cross from Carly Lowi in front of the goal to tally her 16 goal on the season. That was the score for the next 10 minutes before Castillo struck for the first time, propelling a rocket shot from the left to the upper right part of the net to make it 2-0. Castillo said that's a shot she's tried throughout the season but finally was able to convert.

"I practice those shots a lot in practice and I've had many opportunities throughout different games," she said.

Not content with a two-goal lead, Hartnell made it 3-0 two minutes into first-half extra time when Castillo took a pass from Maria Espinoza and beat a defender and the goalkeeper to find the back of the net. It was a lead that looked comfortable but Guerrero said past experiences this season made him figure it wasn't enough.

"We wanted two more (goals)," he said. "We've been in this position before. In the third round against Sierra we were up 3-0. This is playoff soccer, I told them.They're just going to fold and give up. They're going to go after it. (Up 2-0) against Mt. SAC a couple of days ago they didn't let up. We told them today we need some more and were close a couple of times. We saw that the pressure was mounting as the clock kept ticking and you saw toward the ends that we just tried to maintain possession to kind of ice the game and that was key."

Guerrero said being a part of Hartnell's first women's soccer championship was a special feeling.

"We don't have the words (to describe it)," he said. "Honestly, it's been a long time coming and this is the first one in the history of our program. It all goes to the players and their commitment. It's all about the kids and trying to move them on (to the next level). It's about them."

Both teams had 14 shots in the game with the Chargers holding a 14-1 advantage in corner kicks.