COSTA MESA -- Nicholas Cardenas led a solid team effort by the Orange Coast College men's soccer team by scoring all four goals in a 4-0 Orange Empire Conference win against Santiago Canyon on Friday at the OCC Soccer Complex.
With the win, OCC (6-5-3, 4-3-1 in conference) moves into a third-place tie with the Hawks (7-3-3, 4-3-1) and inch closer to second-place Golden West (7-4-2, 5-2-0), who lost to Santa Ana, 3-0, on Friday.
Cardenas' four-goal effort propelled the Pirate sophomore to the top of the OEC leaderboard in goals with 10 and points with 25.
OCC got things going right away and in the eighth minute, Coast defender Hector Blanco showed off some offensive skills with a 60-yard run with the ball, blowing through the SCC defenders. From there, he slipped a nice pass to Cardenas, who ripped a laser into the back of the net, putting the Pirates up, 1-0.
In the 19th minute, a nice chip-in pass by Vitor Gameiro led to a scoring chance for the Pirates as Achref Beldi took Gameiro's pass and sent a cross-pass over to Cardenas, who again didn't miss, putting OCC up, 2-0.
Just two minutes later, it was Meven Anglade, who got on the scoresheet when he sent a long pass over the SCC defense and onto the foot of Cardenas, who earned the hat trick in the first half and gave Coast a 3-0 halftime advantage.
A pivotal moment came in the 34th minute when Coast as called for a hand-ball violation inside the scoring box, which led to a penalty shot opportunity for the Hawks.
SCC's Devin Cornejo attempted the PK and ripped a shot towards the lower-left corner, but OCC goalkeeper Thiago Lino Da Costa (five saves) came up with the save of the match, keeping Coast up by three goals and negating any potential momentum for the Hawks.
In the 60th minute, Cardenas forced a turnover by the SCC defense and took care of business himself, notching his fourth goal of the afternoon to cap off the scoring.
Goalkeeper Alejandro Espinoza had seven saves for the Hawks, who dropped just their third match of the season, but two of those losses have come at the hands of the Pirates (2-1 winners at SCC back on Sept. 11).
The Pirates will take on first-place Fullerton on Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Fullerton College before returning to the OCC Soccer Complex on Friday against Irvine Valley, also at 3 p.m.