It was a frustrating first half for the Irvine Valley men’s soccer team in its Orange Empire Conference match with Fullerton Friday at home.
The Lasers controlled much of the play and out-shot the Hornets, but found themselves behind, 1-0.
But two goals in a four-minute span early in the second half jump-started IVC and the Lasers went on to a 3-1 win over Fullerton.
It was Irvine Valley’s first conference victory after tying Riverside on Tuesday, 1-1.
“I thought we possessed the ball very well in the first half and we got behind their defense and created a number of chances,” IVC Coach Martin McGrogan said. “Our timing just wasn’t quite right or we needed an extra touch on the ball. And then they scored a great goal.
“But I think us getting a goal early in the second half kind of took the pressure off and let us get back to our game.”
Irvine Valley had seven shots in the first half, including great opportunities for goals by sophomore forward Fredy Razo and freshman forward Alex Cannas.
But it was Fullerton that took the lead on a goal by Arley Zaragoza in the 31st minute. Zaragoza found the upper right corner of the net on a shot from 30 yards out.
“I told our kids at halftime that if that goal beat us, I would be OK with it because it was a good strike,” McGrogan said. “But I didn’t think it was going to beat us.”
Irvine Valley tied the contest in the second minute of the second half on a goal by sophomore forward Brandon Mulhall. Cannas hit a shot that beat the Fullerton keeper, but hit the crossbar. Mulhall followed up nicely to head the ball in.
Four minutes later, IVC took the lead for good. Razo finished a loose ball in the box after a corner kick was sent in by Cannas. It was Razo’s seventh goal of the season and 33rd of his career as a Laser.
Then both teams had chances. Zaragoza nearly tied the game for Fullerton in the 63rd minute, but his shot hit the post and rolled away. Mulhall fired a long-range shot for Irvine Valley that Fullerton keeper Eduardo Ramos dived and knocked away in the 69th minute.
In the 75th minute, freshman defender Ray Estrada put the match away for the Lasers. Freshman midfielder Christian Alvear sent a pass ahead to Estrada, who raced past a Fullerton defender and then knocked the ball by Ramos for his second goal of the season.
Razo later hit the post for the Lasers with another solid opportunity.
IVC freshman keeper Diego Chacon didn’t allow any more scoring for the Hornets.
Chacon, who finished with four saves, made his last one in the final minutes when he dove and stopped an attempt from close range by Angel Gutierrez.
The win improved Irvine Valley’s record to 5-2-2 overall and 1-0-1 in conference, while Fullerton fell to 1-5-1 overall and 0-2-0 in conference.
Fullerton also lost to Santa Ana, 3-1, to open conference play on Tuesday.
“We scored a couple of very good goals in the second half and we got just about everyone in (to play),” McGrogan said. “All in all it was a pretty good day.”
Irvine Valley plays at Orange Coast next Tuesday at 3 p.m.