When the latest national ranking was released earlier in the day, and the Cerritos College men's soccer team saw that they had moved to #1, the target on their head got much larger. The Falcons, who entered the day winners of eight games in a row, were taking on crosstown rival Long Beach City College, who is having one of their better seasons in recent years. By the final whistle, the two teams had played to a 1-1 draw, which also keeps Cerritos (8-1-2, 3-0-1) in first place in the South Coast Conference South Division. The Vikings (7-2-2, 2-0-2) remain two points behind. It doesn't get any easier for the Falcons, who will now travel to face another rival, Mt. San Antonio College, in a 6:00 p.m. conference crossover game on Friday.
At the outset of the game, it looked like Cerritos would continue to extend their winning streak. It took them only 9:30 to take a 1-0 lead, as freshman Oscar Penate (Connections Academy HS) took control of the ball just inside the LBCC territory and fed a pass to freshman Kevin Diaz (Connections Academy HS). Once he controlled the ball, Diaz was able to get off a low shot that found the far corner of the goal past goalkeeper Mario DeLaTorre.
About 30 second later, sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Aldama (North Torrance HS) came up with a point blank save on a shot from Oskar Raymundo, who worked inside the 18-yard box to get off a hard, right-footed shot. Aldama, who recorded six saves on the day, stayed low and swallowed up the low, hard shot.
Both teams took turns putting pressure on each other's defense, only to be turned away. It was in the 68th minute when the Vikings were able to get on the board, as Carlos Maldonado spotted Aldama coming out of the net to cut off the angle. Striking at the right time, Maldonado sent a low shot past Aldama, who was unable to get down fast enough to turn away the shot.
As time started ticking away, the intensity of the game picked up, with the Falcons getting the better looks. They had several chances to score the game-winning goal, with Diaz missing a pair of chances, as well as Penate, who saw DeLaTorre make a diving save in the 89th minute. On what turned out to be the final play of the game, Diaz worked the ball down the left goal line, where he got a pass off to freshman Bryan Villalobos (Salesian HS). Standing in front of the goal, Villalobos was unable to put the ball away.
Photos by Daryl Peterson
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