W. Soccer: Team to honor 2007 state championship team

The Cerritos women's soccer team won their first CCCAA State Championship in 2007
The Cerritos women's soccer team won their first CCCAA State Championship in 2007

In what was termed a "Team of Destiny", the Cerritos College women's soccer team put themselves on the map with an incredible comeback in the CCCAA State Championship game in 2007, their first in school history. In just his third season as the head coach, Ruben Gonzalez led his Falcons to a 2-1 win over defending state champion Santiago Canyon College on a cold day at Fresno Pacific University.

On Sunday, September 24, prior to their 4:00 p.m. non-conference game against Ventura College, Gonzalez and his 2017 team will be honoring that 2007 state championship team with an alumni game and celebration. It will start with an alumni vs. alumni game at 1:30 p.m., followed by recognition of the 2007 state championship team.

"That state championship game was unbelievable," remembers Gonzalez. "Two of our top players, Rebecca Juarez and Susan Mendoza, were injured, but the team responded and played their hearts out to win. It was amazing because we scored two goals in the final two minutes to win the game."

The Falcons, who would go on to be ranked #2 in the country afterward, defeated Fresno City College, 3-0 in the semifinals en route to facing the undefeated Hawks, who were ranked #1 in the nation and had only allowed five goals all season heading into the championship game. Trailing 1-0 after Santiago Canyon broke the scoreless tie in the 68th minute, Celia Ramirez scored her first goal of the season on a failed clearing attempt. The team's defensive prowess directly led to their state championship winning goal, as Monique Cisneros scored in the 90th minute after a defensive turnover.

With All-American Juarez only able to play a total of 23 minutes due to her injury, Corina Villegas was moved from forward to midfielder, which was her natural position. That also forced Gonzalez to move Desiree Cardenas back to forward after switching to defender for the last few weeks leading to the post-season due to mounting injuries.

Trailing 1-0 and time running out, the Falcons were awarded a free kick from about 30 yards out. Beatriz Cornejo sent the ball toward the goal, where Hawks goalkeeper Katie Graul and her defenders deflected the ball away. Looking to clear the ball out of the zone, the ball landed in front of Ramirez, who was about 15 yards out directly in front of the net. After chesting the ball to control it, she drilled a shot high into the net to tie the game, with the Cerritos bench erupting in both jubilation and relief.

Before they could even finish talking about the impending overtime, the Falcons struck again. After the Hawks put some pressure on goalkeeper Chantal Cervero, the Falcon defense was able to clear the ball away. After crossing over into Santiago Canyon territory and attempting to get a shot on goal, Cisneros found herself with the ball after her passing attempted was blocked by a Hawks player right back to her. She controlled the ball and scored the game-winning goal and would be the first of seven CCCAA State Championships, including the last five seasons.

"I think 2007 was magical, but we thought we could compete for a championship in 2008, too," added Gonzalez. "So I think winning it a year sooner than I thought we would really set us up for 2008 and for years to come."

Those alumni that are interested in playing in the alumni vs. alumni game, please contact assistant coach Ana Ramirez at (323) 333-4857 and let her know you want to play and provide her with your t-shirt size. The alumni will also be treated to food after the game.

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