For the second year in a row, Irvine Valley's men's soccer team lost a heartbreaking match to Mt. San Antonio with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
The Lasers battled, but came up on the short end of a 3-2 decision in the rain at Mt. SAC on Saturday in a CCCAA Southern California Regional final contest.
Mt. SAC advanced to its 10th-straight state championship final four.
Mt. SAC was seeded first and IVC was fourth in the playoffs.
Irvine Valley was chasing from behind right from the start.
In a first half that had strong winds and hard rain, Mt. SAC didn't waste any time getting into the scoring column as Axel Mendez received a pass in the middle from Martin Arrieta, just inside the box and scored in just the minute for a 1-0 lead.
The Mounties, appearing in their 12th consecutive So. Cal. Regionals, increased the lead to 2-0 in the 37th minute when Julio Velasquez fought for the ball inside the box and beat Laser keeper Blake Sigler with a hard shot.
However, just three minutes later (40th minute), the Lasers cut the lead in half, 2-1, with a goal from sophomore midfielder Jose Rivera.
Rivera beat the Mt. SAC keeper with a high shot near the top of the box after the ball was played back from sophomore forward Sean Goode.
Irvine Valley was back in the match, down, 2-1, at the half.
Mt. SAC made it a 3-1 game in the 52nd minute.
Michael Flores beat the outside back and dribbled towards the goal, where he laid off a pass to Mendez. From the top of the box he shot the ball into the upper left corner of the goal for his second score of the game.
In the back-and-forth match, IVC closed the gap to within a goal, 3-2, in the 69th minute off of a free kick on a perfectly placed shot by sophomore forward Connor Elder.
The Lasers continued to attack and created several more chances in the final minutes. With six minutes left, it looked as if IVC tied the match after Rivera flicked a shot into the back of the net. But the referee called offside on the play.
Irvine Valley finished the season with a record of 16-5-3 overall. The Lasers were ranked in the state most of the season and took second in the Orange Empire Conference.