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Shifting gears

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With the regular season behind them and postseason brackets set, the two local soccer participants are spending the week readying themselves for knockout-style competition.

The No. 4 Oxnard College men's soccer team (14-2-4) is expecting an athletic, physical and organized opponent when it hosts No. 13 Orange Coast (11-5-4) in Saturday's regional quarterfinals at 2 p.m.

"They won't be easy to break down," Oxnard coach Ross Greaney said. "We'll have to be patient. We have to just manage the game well."

Until No. 10 Citrus (15-2-3) arrives at the VC Sportsplex on Saturday at 1 p.m., the No. 7 Ventura College women's soccer team (14-5-1) will bracing itself for striker Jasmine Williams, who has a school-record 17 goals and 10 assists for the Owls this fall.

"The playoffs is all about that one game," Ventura coach Steve Hoffman said. "Can we shut down their one star?"

When the fields were announced Tuesday, Oxnard avoided three-time defending state champion Mount San Antonio, who eliminated the Condors the last two seasons. Ventura's path to the Final Four, most likely, could include rematches with No. 2 Canyons, No. 3 Cerritos or No. 6 Cypress, three of the teams to beat the Pirates this season.

As Pirates rest, SoCal regional football playoffs take shape

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Under usual circumstances, a bye week for the final week of the regular season would just mean the Ventura College football season ending seven days early.

But this has been no ordinary season for the Pirates, who have finished 10-0 for the first time in school history, won the SCFA Northern Conference and clinched a berth in next weekend's Southern California semifinals.

"It's a three-game season right now," Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian said this week. "You're in the tournament. There's only six teams that get to do this throughout the state of California and we're one of them."

Mooshagian's team practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, spent Thursday in the gym and took the weekend off, ahead of Sunday's playoff pairings announcement.

"We should know who we're going to play at some point on Sunday," said the third-year Ventura head coach.

The SoCal playoff field will consist of the National Division's three conference champions, plus a wildcard team, and be seeded by the final regional poll.

No. 2 Ventura (10-0) has clinched the Northern Conference.

No. 1 Mount San Antonio (9-0) and No. 3 Riverside City (8-1) -- both 5-0 in conference play -- will determine the Central Conference champion Saturday at 6 p.m. with their showdown in Walnut, which will be broadcast by http://www.SoCalCollegeSports.com.

The Southern Conference is a mess. No. 6 Santa Ana (7-2), No. 7 Saddleback (5-4) and No. 9 Fullerton (5-4) are tied atop the standings at 4-1. Santa Ana, which owns the tiebreaker, can clinch the berth by beating Fullerton Saturday. Should Fullerton triumph, Saddleback can clinch the berth by beating Golden West. Fullerton will advance with a win and a Saddleback loss.

While much of the Pirates' coaching staff is schedule to scout the Mt. SAC-Riverside showdown Saturday, Mooshagian is planning on taking in Santa Ana-Fullerton in person.

"It'll be interesting to see how it plays out," Mooshagian said. "There are about six scenarios in play... We can't control it. I just hope there's no shenanigans involved."

The Mt. SAC-Riverside loser seems to have the inside track on the wild card berth, which is goes to the highest ranked non-champion in the final regional poll. But No. 4 Bakersfield (7-2) and No. 5 Citrus (7-2) could force their way into the discussion by beating Pasadena City (1-8) and No. 8 Los Angeles Harbor (5-4) Saturday.

An 8-2 Riverside and an 8-2 Bakersfield could make for a heck of a wild-card debate Sunday morning, considering, in that scenario, both teams would have lost to the same two teams -- Ventura and Mt. SAC.

Mooshagian is more concerned with what the bracket would look like if Mt. SAC loses to Riverside for the second straight year. Ventura would, most likely, ascend to the top seed, but might not get the benefit of facing the bottom seed.

SCFA bylaws say the seeding committee "may" reseed the field to avoid matching up two conference opponents. In that scenario, five-time defending SoCal champion Mt. SAC would visit VC next week, rather than a potential four-loss team.

"That's my only concern," Mooshagian said. "If we happen to be fortunate to make it through undefeated, then we should play the fourth seed. It shouldn't have to be manipulated so that Mt. Sac and Riverside don't play again."

Today's CC football preview, capsules

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Click here for the preview of today's CC football games, "VC, Moorpark hope to build off opening wins."

And here are the preview capsules:

COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOOTBALL
No. 3 Ventura (1-0) at Long Beach City (0-1)
Veterans Stadium, 1 p.m.
LAST WEEK: Ventura 28, Riverside 27; Fullerton 52, Long Beach 21
SERIES HISTORY: Long Beach leads series, 6-2-1, dating back to 1940. Long Beach won the last meeting, 21-20, in 2006.
GAME FACTS: Ventura made significant plays in all three phases in the season-opening win. QB Ebahn Feathers completed 26 of 42 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns. RB Victor Caro Jr. had 64 all-purpose yards and two TDs before suffering turf toe in the first half. WR Dylan McDaniel caught six passes for 67 yards and two scores. The defense, led by LB P.J. Gremaud and S Matt Arve, forced four turnovers. Long Beach fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter and never recovered, despite 206 yards passing and two TDs from QB Casey Nielsen.

No. 15 Citrus (1-0) at No. 16 Moorpark (1-0)
Griffin Stadium, 1 p.m.
LAST WEEK: Citrus 31, Pasadena City 14; Moorpark 23, Orange Coast 20 (OT)
SERIES HISTORY: Moorpark leads, 4-1, after last year's 27-21 win in Glendora.
GAME FACTS: The Moorpark defense already off to a great start this fall after allowing just 20 points, 224 yards of total offense and intercepting four passes in its opening win. Citrus also forced four turnovers in its opening win. Citrus QB Bernard Porter completed 18 of 28 passes for 221 yards and 3 TDs. Offensively, Moorpark was led by RB Jordan Nunnery (29 att., 117 yards). After four years off the field, QB Ben Conlin (16-of-28 passing, 116 yards, 1 TD, 1 int.) has now shaken off the cobwebs.

Forfeits alter WSC races

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The WSC North men's standings were altered this week by news that the Los Angeles Pierce men's team had fielded an ineligible player in wins over Oxnard Jan. 4 and Hancock Jan. 11.

The forfeits lifted Hancock (17-5, 4-1) into first place by a half game over Ventura, Moorpark and Cuesta, who are all 3-1, and kept reeling Oxnard (9-9, 2-2) within touching distance.

WSC commissioner Jerry White has been busy.

Citrus, which lost the SCFA Western Conference football title because of three forfeits due to an ineligible player, also forfeited 13 women's basketball games this month because of an ineligible player, throwing the WSC South race into chaos. The Owls No. 2-ranked men's basketball team also had its head coach Chris Victor and assistant coach Patrick Johnson suspended for two and eight games, respectively, because of recruiting violations this month.

Saturday's SCFA box scores

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Community College football
Moorpark 27, Citrus 21
SCFA Western Conference
Moorpark 0 27 0 0 --27

Citrus 7 7 7 0 --21

First Quarter

CC -- Vargas 1 run (Kepley kick), 3:04. 

Second Quarter

MC -- Hutchins 1 pass form Owens (kick blocked), 14:42.

MC -- Robinson 23 pass form Owens (Ruhnke kick), 14:26.

MC -- Robinson 4 pass form Owens (Ruhnke kick), 8:29.

MC -- Robinson 22 pass form Owens (Ruhnke kick), 3:49.

CC --Ball 48 run (Kepley kick), 3:03.

Third Quarter

CC -- Dooley 9 pass from Moore (Kepley kick), 1:33.
Team stats MC CC
First downs 23 21
Rushes-Yards 40-93 32-135
Passing Yards 279 235
Comp-Att-Int 27-45-0 19-37-3
Punts-avg. 7-38.9 5-40.8
Fumbles-Lost 3-0 4-3
Penalties-Yards 10-95 5-50
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Moorpark -- Franklin 16-49, Jackson 13-49, Sandler 1-29, Looney 3-4, Team 2-(--2), Owens 5-(--36). Citrus -- Ball 4-59, Johnson 9-41, Tauiliili 3-23, Sainz 6-17, Counts 2-17, Vargas 5-16, Clark 1-1, Moore 1-(--10), Team 1-(--19).
PASSING: Moorpark -- Owens 27-44-0-279, Stevents 0-1-0-0. Citrus -- Moore 19-36-3-235, Ball 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Moorpark -- Hutchins 10-126, Robinson 9-97, West 5-32, Elmore 3-24. Citrus -- Chatham 4-70, Dooley 4-31, Ball 3-47, Oyefeso 3-33, Sainz 1-30, Moore 1-8, Johnson 1-3
RECORDS: Moorpark 6-3, 3-1; Citrus 6-3, 3-1.

Canyons 36, Ventura 34
SCFA Northern Conference
Canyons 7 0 12 17 -- 36
Ventura 0 7 14 13 -- 34
First quarter
COC -- Wilson 8 pass from Rini (Flores kick), 4:06.
Second quarter
VC -- Reed 1 run (Luna kick), 2:46.
Third quarter
COC -- Safety, kick return tackled in end zone, 14:59.
COC -- FG 43 Flores, 13:13.
COC -- Wilson 1 run (Flores kick), 5:02.
VC -- Caro 39 run (Luna kick), 3:55.
VC -- Smith 20 run (Luna kick), 0:31.
Fourth quarter
COC -- Gipson 5 pass from Rini (Flores kick), 13:05.
VC -- Vizzi 5 pass from Smith (Luna kick), 9:21.
COC -- Gipson 4 pass from Rini (Flores kick), 7:27.
VC -- Wong 22 interceptoin return (Smith pass failed), 5:28.
COC -- FG 23 Flores, 0:00.
Team stats COC VC
First downs 29 17
Rushes-Yards 30-54 46-286
Passing Yards 470 47
Comp-Att-Int 37-57-2 6-18-3
Punts-avg. 3-36.0 5-33.8
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 0-0
Penalties-Yards 7-55 14-99
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Canyons -- Wilson 8-22, Schechter 3-11, Rini 11-10, Bowen 1-6, Szymanski 2-5, Jordan 1-4, D'Amore 3-2, Stenhouse 1-(--6). Ventura -- Reed 22-140, Caro 15-108, Smith 8-31, Craver 1-7.
PASSING: Canyons -- Rini 33-49-1-433, D'Amore 3-6-1-33, Owens 1-2-0-4. Ventura -- Smith 6-18-3-47.
RECEIVING: Canyons -- Gipson 10-160, Szymanski 5-44, Wilson 5-41, Graves 4-57, Neilson 3-44, Stenhouse 3-34, Jordan 2-42, Brown 2-27, Madero 2-11, Rivas 1-10. Ventura -- Vizzi 4-26, Reed 1-16, Rodarte 1-5.
RECORDS: Canyons 4-5, 1-3; Ventura 5-4, 2-2.

No margin for error for OC men's soccer

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Once again, every point counts in the Western State Conference men's soccer race.

One year after leaders Santa Barbara City dropped points in the final week to allow chasing Oxnard to snatch the title with an 11-game unbeaten streak, the tables have turned.

Oxnard (12-1-4, 9-0-2), by virtue of taking four points in the teams' two matchups, is the leader, holding tight to a slim one-point lead over Santa Barbara City (12-1-4, 9-1-1) into the final fortnight of the season.

The Condors began its final four matches Tuesday with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Citrus, while Santa Barbara grabbed a second half goal to hold off Canyons, 1-0.

"The challenges are coming from different types of fields, different types of drives and different types of rests," said Oxnard coach Ross Greaney. "We're doing well for the soccer part. If we can focus on playing well, then everything will be OK."

The title may hinge on Friday's difficult trip to Hancock followed by Canyons' visit on Tuesday. Oxnard will be rooting for county rivals Moorpark Friday at Santa Barbara.

VC men upset No. 1 Mount SAC

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Try as he might, Will Cowen could not brush off the satisfaction of knocking off the state's top-ranked team late Friday night.

Asked about the significance of the 74-73 win Friday over No. 1 and previously unbeaten Mount San Antonio, the Ventura College men's basketball coach initially responded glibly.

"It means we get to play tomorrow night at 7," said Cowen.

But the coach couldn't keep playing down perhaps the biggest win in his three years at Ventura.

"It's a huge win," said Cowen. "You feel very fortunate to come out with a win against a team like Mount SAC. It's a huge confidence builder for us."

James Ennis, Mike Melonas and Corey Hall scored 15 points apiece, Austin Ramljak added 14 and Eric Mitchell had 10 points and nine assists as the No. 6-ranked Pirates (9-2) relied on a balanced effort to upend the Mounties (9-1) in the first round of the power-packed Wells Fargo Tournament at Citrus College in Glendora.

Mount SAC scored 13 of the first 17 points along its way to a 45-32 halftime lead.

"They came out like gangbusters against us," said Cowen, "but our guys trusted themselves the whole game."

But Hall and Ramljak splashed 3-pointers to open the second half and spur a 17-2 VC run that pulled the Pirates even, 47-47, with 16:13 to play.

It was still tied when Hall and Melonas spurred an 8-2 run to give the Pirates its biggest lead of the game, 68-62, with 4:49 left. But the Mounties tied the game twice in the final 90 seconds via guard Antonio Bigelow (game-high 26 points).

Hall produced the game-winning point on a free throw with 24 seconds to play, then defended the slender lead by tapping the ball out to midcourt in the final seconds.
Ventura turned the ball over just five times as it made its charge in the second half.

"It's the only way to play against Mount SAC," said Cowen. "They feed off the turnover."

Ventura advances to a semifinal date with No. 3 Antelope Valley (7-2) Saturday night at 7. The Marauders needed double overtime to survive No. 8 Riverside, 78-69.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 Citrus (10-0) beat Fullerton, 87-78, and No. 13 San Bernardino Valley beat No. 14 Los Angeles Trade-Tech, 86-79, in overtime.

Should Ventura and Citrus advance Saturday, the Pirates will face the No. 1, 2 and 3 teams in Southern California in the same weekend.

2010 Wells Fargo Tournament hosted by Citrus College

Friday's quarterfinals:
No. 2 Citrus 87, Fullerton 78
No. 13 San Bernardino Valley 86, No. 14 LA Trade Tech 79 (OT)
No. 3 Antelope Valley 78, No. 8 Riverside 69 2OT
No. 6 Ventura 74, No. 2 Mt. SAC 73

Saturday's schedule
Consolation semifinals
Fullerton vs LA Trade Tech, 1 p.m.
Riverside vs Mt. SAC, 3 p.m.
Championship semifinals
Citrus vs San Bernardino Valley, 5 p.m.
Antelope Valley vs Ventura, 7 p.m.

Learning experience

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You don't see a 1-7 team stop a six-game winning streak very often, which is why some were stunned by Citrus' upset of the Raiders.

But Shultis left Griffin Stadium impressed with the Owls.

"Citrus is a good team, their record doesn't show what type of team they are," said Shultis. "They've been in every game and they had some great athletes out there."

The Owls hadn't scored more than 14 points in their previous four games and only put up 13 points offensively Saturday.

The big blow was a 56-yard fumble return by Kevin Puckett early in the third quarter that gave Citrus a 14-3 lead that it never relinquished.

Moorpark, which entered play No. 4 in turnover margin, lost the turnover battle, giving the ball away five times.

Shultis thinks Saturday's loss will make the Raiders tougher to beat come this weekend's title tilt.

"This past week was a big learning experience," said Shultis. "It taught us a lot about ourselves. We know we have to come out and can't take anything for granted."

Moorpark shifts its aim

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The aim has shifted for the Moorpark College football team.

Once looking to simply win a game, the Raiders are now focused for a title.

"We'd like to win the championship," said Moorpark coach Jim Bittner.

Having followed up its school-record 13-game losing streak with five straight wins, Moorpark (5-2), debuting at No. 22 in the state poll this week, is atop the new Western Conference alongside Los Angeles Harbor at 2-0.

The Raiders are wins at Chaffey (4-3, 1-1) Saturday and against Citrus (1-6, 0-2) from a potential Western Division title game Nov. 13 at Harbor (5-2, 2-0).

You'd think clinching a .500 record would be enough for a team coming off its first winless season.

"We're never satisfied," said Bittner. "I realize we've done well. With the exception of an official's call we would have six straight wins. This team has gotten better and better and better. That's what happens in Raider football."

Raider football, an endangered species in recent years, is thriving again.

"If you can bring a group together, one that's fairly talented and can play together, you have a chance," said Bittner. "That's what's going on here. The freshmen have gelled with the sophomores. We have a real football team here."

VC women in position

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Locked in a tie game midway through the third quarter Wednesday, the Ventura College women's water polo team used its defense to stay unbeaten in WSC play.

The Pirates (11-6, 3-0) shut out host Cuesta in the fourth quarter of a 8-5 win

"I'm a big believer in that, if you focus on defense, offensive comes naturally," said Ventura coach Mary Giles.

Sophomore Courtney Thomas scored in every period and drivers Samantha Ebberson, Lindsay Wolny and Eliana Guzman led the way defensively.

"Eliana's a lefty, so it's naturally easy for her to use her left to steal from a righty," said Giles. "It makes it easy."

Goalie Andrea Mallul also saved two four-meter penalty shots.

The win sets up a matchup of WSC unbeatens Wednesday afternoon in Ventura, when Citrus (12-11, 3-0) visits the Ventura Aquatics Center.

The winner will be the top seed in the WSC Championship Nov. 5-6 in San Luis Obispo.

Defense betrays OC baseball in loss to Citrus

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Just six days removed from a nine-game winning streak, the Oxnard College baseball team is dealing with its first rut of a promising season.

J.C. Aguayo and Justin Bricker combined to throw a three-hitter, but five errors in the field and a few more on the basepaths conspired to push the Condors to their third loss in six days, 4-2, to visiting Citrus on Wednesday afternoon.

"That ain't right," said Oxnard coach Jon Larson. "We basically gave them the game."

Click here for the full story from Thursday's newspaper.

OC baseball up to No. 3 in RPI

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The Oxnard College baseball team is 14-5, riding an eight-game winning streak and has built a two-game lead in the Western State Conference's North Division.

The Condors are making some noise regionally, moving up this week to No. 3 in the RPI index that shapes the postseason field.

And they will have a chance to climb even higher in the coming weeks as Oxnard hosts No. 1 Citrus (13-6) Wednesday, March 31 and No. 2 Santa Ana (13-5) Tuesday, April 6.

Citrus powers into the Final Four

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Keith Thompson had 13 points and DeAndre Haskins added 10 points as the Citrus College men's basketball team, the South's No. 2 seed, opened up a 21-point halftime lead and cruised to a 74-53 over No. 3-North San Jose.

The Owls (29-2) advanced to their second state semifinal in three years.

Behind 17 offensive rebounds and a 49-33 advantage on the boards, Citrus produced 23 second-chance points.

Saddleback will face Citrus in the 7 p.m. semifinal Saturday.

McLucas lifts Oxnard men past San Diego City

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Ryan McLucas had five of his team-high 26 points in the final 73 seconds of overtime to lift the Oxnard College men's basketball team, 86-82, over San Diego City Tuesday night at Citrus College in Glendora.

Oxnard trailed 82-79 with 1:13 to play when the sophomore from Rio Mesa High buried a pair of jumpers, including a 3-pointer. McLucas also had eight rebounds and eight assists.

James Ennis had 24 points and eight rebounds. Criag Lee added 16 points. Oxnard will face No. 3 Citrus Wednesday at 7 p.m..

Dunell Webb Jr. had 32 points and Travis Wilson added 19 points for San Diego City (3-10).

College Sports Blog
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Ventura County Star sports writer and columnist Joe Curley covers college sports and soccer for this Star. This is the place to click for local college football and basketball coverage, including USC, UCLA, Moorpark College, Ventura College and Cal Lutheran.

Curley will update from live events and also interject with periodic comment on both international soccer and the local Ventura County Fusion.