Knights goalie Sebastian Guillen’s return to City College ends with PCAC Goalkeeper of the Year

After training with pro teams in Mexico, Guillen returned to his roots to lead the state in saved goals
Sebastian Guillen practices a bicycle kick over a net during a practice drill with coach Alex Camacho, center, and teammate Justin Leal, right, at the City College soccer field, Nov. 8, 2023. Photo by Sean Monney/City Times Media
Sebastian Guillen practices a bicycle kick over a net during a practice drill with coach Alex Camacho, center, and teammate Justin Leal, right, at the City College soccer field, Nov. 8, 2023. Photo by Sean Monney/City Times Media
Sean Monney

Sebastian Guillen returned to the goalkeeper position at San Diego City College to lead the state in saved goals with 155 saves in the 2023 season. 

This achievement and his dominating 6-foot-4 presence earned him the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year award. 

His efforts guarding the goal led the Knights to their first winning season (6-5-1) since 2019.

That year was also the last season Guillen played for City College, when he played his freshman year after graduating from Gompers Preparatory Academy.

Those three years away from City soccer weren’t planned for Guillen. 

He was forced to put off his sophomore season when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all City College sports in fall 2020. 

In October 2021, Guillen moved to Puebla, Mexico to play for Guerreros de Puebla, a fourth-tier soccer league team. 

There, he got the chance to train with professionals as well as play a men’s under-20 game against a team in Pachuca. 

He also went to try out for Club Querétaro and played trial games for Club Cañoneros Marina and Club de Ciervos FC in Mexico City, but wasn’t taken on by those teams.

After he tried out for the Alebrijes de Oaxaca in December 2021, Guillen was asked to stay in Oaxaca, where he continued to train with the second-tier soccer team for the 2022 season. 

“I trained with the pros a couple of times and I feel that I learned a lot from them,” Guillen wrote in a text. “That’s why when I came back to San Diego I felt I got more experience out of that.”

Sebastian Guillen practices with Alebrijes de Oaxaca, a second-tier Mexican soccer team, in 2022. Photo courtesy of Sebastian Guillen

Guillen ended his time with Alebrijes in July 2022 and returned to City College to continue playing soccer and resume his studies.

Head soccer coach Chris Tolles first met Guillen then, during his first season coaching for City College. 

“He’s always been a hell of a talent,” Tolles said. “I think his biggest attribute as a keeper is his distribution, how well he is with his feet. He’s able to punt a ball anywhere he wants, as far as he wants. … He’s confident enough to play around defenders and keep possession of the ball.”

But Guillen wasn’t eligible to compete for the Knights that year because of academic reasons and unit requirements. 

So he stayed and trained all season. 

By the 2023 season, Guillen was eligible to play and ready to get on the field. 

Guillen got his opportunity to show the improvements he’d made since playing at City in 2019. The 65 saves he made in his freshman year were totally eclipsed by the 155 saves he made this year.

“He’s been super motivated this year,” Tolles said. “He hadn’t been taking his studies seriously in the past. And if his studies didn’t improve, he was going to limit his options. So I’m happy to see him accept that and take ownership of that and really work on his grades this past year.”

Knights goalie Sebastian Guillen deflects a Cuyamaca shot on goal during their home game, Oct. 27, 2023. Photo by Sean Monney/City Times Media

In addition to overcoming academic obstacles, Guillen has a stutter that started in middle school, he added, and caused him to be shy. 

But now he said he doesn’t let the stutter bother him so much.

“I say this hasn’t been a real issue because when I’m in the pitch I command my teammates, I tell them what to do,” Guillen wrote in a text, “and I feel good about it because my confidence is high up when I’m playing soccer.”

A speech problem, as Guillen calls it, doesn’t change Tolles’ view of his goalkeeper as a leader.

“He’s maybe not a vocal leader,” Tolles said. “He can’t really express his words all the time. But he works hard in training. He competes every day and then when it’s game time, he’s definitely locked in.”

Sebastian Guillen, center, tags in alternate goalie Alan Juarez, right, after a head pat from coach Chris Tolles, right, as Johnson Nguyen, far right, walks by at their game at Mesa College, Oct. 17, 2023. Photo by Sean Monney/City Times Media.

Guillen ended his season with 10 saves in the Knights’ final game against MiraCosta, 1-0, on Nov. 10.

Since community college athletes are only allowed to compete in intercollegiate sports for two years, Guillen won’t be wearing the Knights uniform anymore. 

“I want to go to a Division I or Division II (school),” said Guillen, “and after that just level up.”

Guillen is studying kinesiology and he said he can see himself becoming a physical therapist. But his real passion is soccer. 

“I just wanna play soccer for the rest of my life,” he said.

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