M. Soccer: Falcons open conference play with 4-2 win

File Photo: Cerritos opened conference play with 4-2 win
File Photo: Cerritos opened conference play with 4-2 win

The Cerritos College men's soccer team started the day with the news that they moved up to #2 in the national rankings by the United Soccer Coaches among Division III (non-scholarship) schools. They capped off the day with a 4-2 win at Los Angeles Harbor College in their South Coast Conference opener. The Falcons (6-1-1, 1-0-0) will now host Compton College at 4:00 p.m. on Friday in another conference match.

In the first 45 minutes, Cerritos took control of the scoreboard, as they turned a strong 1-0 lead into a commanding 2-0 advantage with a goal in extra time. After missing a great chance to score early in the game, the Falcons were able to get on the board in the 24th minute. On the play, freshman Eugene Martinez (Delille Academy, Belize) centered the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, where freshman Bryan Ortega (Cesar Chavez HS) curved a shot into the back of the net. Not content with their lead, freshman Carlos Perez (Mayfair HS) pushed the ball into Seahawks territory, where he found freshman Bryan Villalobos (Salesian HS) for a one-touch tap-in and a commanding lead.

"I thought our guys did a great job of setting the tone for conference play," said head coach Benny Artiaga. "We haven't been lighting it up with goals, but today we got an early one and it allowed us to settle in."

LA Harbor cut the lead in half in the 52nd minute, but that didn't last long, as the Falcons made it a 4-1 game with two goals in the span of three minutes. They had a chance to get the goal right back after the Seahawks scored, but sophomore Esteban Camacho (Mayfair HS) missed on a penalty kick. That didn't faze the Falcons, as they kept up the pressure and put the game out of reach.

Freshman Kevin Diaz (Connections Academy HS) got the third goal started in the 67th minute when he sent a through ball to freshman Brandon Pelayo (Cesar Chavez HS). As soon as he received the ball, Pelayo looked and saw that the goalie was off his line and fired off a shot that got under the keeper and into the net. The same duo worked together to account for the second goal three minutes later. Sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Aldama (North Torrance HS) cleared the ball into LA Harbor territory, where Pelayo was able to head the ball to Diaz. Again, playing with his head up, Diaz lifted a shot from 30 yards out which went over the Seahawks keeper and into the net.

For the second time this season, Aldama allowed two goals, but made three saves in the win. LA Harbor scored their second goal in the final minute of the game.

"The chemistry is starting to get better and hopefully we can continue to get those early goals," added Artiaga. "We told our guys after the game today that you can be in first place or last place, so let's make sure we go for our third straight conference championship."