Ventura County has dominated Western State Conference soccer this fall.
A combined 19-0-5 in conference play, the Oxnard College men and Ventura College women both clinched WSC titles in the past six days.
The Oxnard men (13-2-4, 11-0-4), ranked No. 3 in Southern California and No. 7 in the state, clinched a share of its third WSC title in six years with a 4-1 win at Hancock Tuesday night.
One year after an undefeated WSC campaign wasn't enough to edge Santa Barbara City, sophomores like goalkeeper Osvaldo Vallodolid, fullback Estanilo Arevalo and midfield Victor Magana knew that every win was precious this season.
"We have a bunch of sophomores who have learned from painful experiences in previous years," Oxnard coach Ross Greaney said. "Everybody learned from the finish to last year and knew that going undefeated wasn't enough."
"I think enough of our players knew the importance of every point, to make sure it didn't slip through our fingers again."
Put in position by its 4-1 win over Santa Barbara City, the Ventura women (13-5-1, 8-0-1) finished the job Friday with a 5-0 bruising of Cuesta.
After losing five of six matches early against some of the best teams in the nation, including No. 1 Santiago Canyon, No. 3 Canyons and No. 4 Cerritos, the Pirates, ranked No. 9 in Southern California and No. 13 in the state, rebounded with a 12-game unbeaten streak.
"When you play the type of competition we played, it's certainly pretty tough," Ventura coach Steve Hoffman said. "We didn't really hide from anybody and that's why we're playing so well."
Both are ranked No. 15 in the national coaches polls.
Oxnard's free-flowing attack has been led by striker Travis Bowen (14 goals) and attacker Max Madrigal (six goals, 10 assists).
"There is definitely a respect and a respect in the way that teams will play us, putting players behind the ball and defend just for a tie," Greaney said. "It's good preparation for playoffs."
After it wraps the regular season up Friday against visiting Oxnard, Ventura should be a much more dangerous postseason opponent later this month than its seed would hint.
"You get everybody healthy and you can go on a run," Hoffman said. "We're ready to rock and roll. I don't know whether we'll be at home or on the road, but we'll be ready."
Oxnard needs a tie against cross-county rival Moorpark Friday to clinch the title outright.
"The result on Tuesday has definitely taken the pressure off of us, knowing that we've have some reward for the season we've had," Greaney said. "But I don't think anybody wants to share the conference title. We know the job is not totally done."