COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College men's soccer team picked up a much-needed 3-2 win over Cypress College on Tuesday in a pivotal Orange Empire Conference matchup, played at the OCC Soccer Complex.
OCC's win, coupled with a 1-0 loss by Fullerton over Irvine Valley, puts the top three teams -- OCC, Fullerton and Golden West -- in a real log jam. The Pirates (10-3-3 overall, 4-2-2 in OEC) are tied with the Hornets (8-5-4, 4-2-2) atop the OEC, pending the final result of Tuesday's match between GWC and Santiago Canyon. If the Rustlers won, they would be two points ahead of OCC and FC at 4-0-4 in conference play.
Coast broke out of its two-match losing streak and came out fast and furious against the Chargers (8-2-5, 1-2-4). In the 37th minute, Rafael Dominguez slipped a nice feed to Takumi Taniguchi down the right side and the freshman forward found the back of the net with the first goal of the match.
It stayed that way through the rest of the first half and just four minutes into the second half, Taniguchi again scored to make it 2-0 off a nice pass from Danny Vargas.
Fullerton had a golden opportunity midway through the second half when OCC was called for a handball infraction inside the scoring area, giving the Hornets a penalty kick. But Nomar Ibarra's attempt rang off of the bottom of the crossbar and the Pirates were able to knock the ball out of harm's way.
Coast looked to be working its way to a comfortable win before a misplayed shot attempt by Cypress forward Isiah Olivares found its way into the goal, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Less than a minute later, OCC answered back as a shot attempt by Vargas was stopped by goalkeeper Leonardo Mondragon, but the rebound went right to OCC's Jesus Flores, who lined a shot past Mondragon to put OCC up, 3-1 with just a handful of minutes remaining.
A defensive lapse allowed Ricardo Zepeda a good look and the Charger forward found the back of net in the final minutes to make it 3-2, but the OCC defense would not allow any more drama the rest of the way.
Pablo Ramirez picked up with win with four saves, while Mondragon stopped 10 for the Chargers.
OCC will return to action on Friday at Irvine Valley, beginning at 3 p.m. OCC's next home match will be on Tuesday against Golden West, also at 3 p.m.