Poly wins B2B Tilson Classic Titles
Bears win the 28th Tilson Classic 4-1 over Corona
RIVERSIDE — Ivan Cano switched to the left side early in the second half and Riverside Poly’s boys soccer team left Corona behind.
Poly’s senior midfielder had a goal and two assists as the Bears scored three times in five minutes during the second half to run away with a 4-1 victory, and their second consecutive Tom Tilson Holiday Classic tournament title.
“Our mentality coming into this game was, ‘We just have to win,’” Cano said. “There was nothing that was going to stop us except for us.”
Cano was selected tournament Most Valuable Player for Poly (10-1-1 overall), which outscored opponents 19-5 during the 28th edition of the annual tournament.
“Cano wide just opens things up. That was the offensive game-changer,” Poly coach Alex Figueroa said. “The coaching staff made some adjustments, and for us it’s about getting them in at halftime and making that adjustment, and I thought a couple of changes in midfield helped us out.”
Corona star forward Francisco Gomez had three shots on goal in the first half but was limited to just seven second-half touches in the loss for the Panthers (9-2-1), who entered the game ranked 12th in the state by Maxpreps.com.
“Poly did a good job on defense, but the game changed on the first goal,” Corona coach Ernie Parra said. “We had a 10-minute stretch in first half where (Gomez) hit the crossbar, and then they had a stretch in the second half where they were able to cash in when we didn’t.”
For Poly, the victory avenged a 1-0 loss to Corona at the Norte Vista tournament on Dec. 2.
“We started off a little bad at the NoVi tournament but now with this we feel great,” Cano said.
Changing position at Figueroa’s request, Cano went from occupying a central midfield spot to a more attacking role out on the left and it paid off almost immediately as he and dribbled through the heart of Corona’s defense before laying it off to Xavi Flores for the game’s opening goal in the 52nd minute.
“He just draws so much attention that he really opens it up for everybody,” Figueroa said. “If defenses don’t send a second guy immediately then he can start running at them and he can beat three, four, five guys (and) lay it off for tap-ins.”
Pressing for more in the attacking third, Cano received the ball to the left of the penalty area and took two touches to his right before firing a right-footed curler into the side netting just inside the far post for a 2-0 lead in the 55th minute.
Poly’s midfield maestro then orchestrated the Bears’ third goal less than two minutes later when he won an aerial challenge on the flank, shook a defender, a dribbled toward the goal mouth before sliding it sideways to Laketric Mendel for the easy finish.
“I just see space when defenders come in too strong so I just move to the side and that opens up more space and I try to see runners, any kind of runner for the easy ball so they can do the easy job,” Cano said.
DeShawn Mendel added a fourth goal with an assist from Gio Martinez for the Bears, who scored three or more goals in four of the five tournament games.
Leo Mendoza scored on a late penalty, but Gomez turned the ball over seven times and connected on just 5 of 13 passes for Corona, which played short for the final 18 minutes after a center back Tyler Meckstroth was sent off for being cautioned for a second time by the referee.