After seeing their 2017 season come to an end in the CCCAA State Semifinals due to penalty kicks, the Cerritos College men's soccer team will be making a return trip after they defeated Santa Monica College, 3-0 on Saturday. The Falcons (20-1-2), the #1-seeded team from Southern California, will now move on to Ventura College, where they will play the #2-seed from Northern California on Friday.
"This feeling will never get old," said head coach Benny Artiaga, who is taking his fifth team to the State Tournament and is in search of his fourth championship. Our boys have worked hard all year and this may have been our best game all season. It's a beautiful feeling to see everything we've been working on executed so well. They're doing everything we ask them to and it's getting us back to the Final Four."
It was a scoreless game until the Falcons showed just how explosive their offense can be, as they struck twice in less than two minutes. In the 53rd minute, freshman Kevin Diaz (Connections Academy HS) settled a loose ball and lofted a pass over the Corsairs (17-3-4) defense to freshman Bryan Ortega (Cesar Chavez HS). Sensing that goalkeeper Aydin Kose had overplayed his position, Ortega was able to chip the ball into an exposed portion of the net to get Cerritos on the board. Ortega, who Artiaga called 'the best player on the pitch today', created the team's second goal when he was tackled in the box by Cyrille Njomo.
Sophomore Erick Gallinar (Connections Academy/UC Irvine) stepped up and converted the penalty kick, giving the Falcons a 2-0 lead in the blink of an eye.
The game remained physical, as the two teams combined for 32 fouls and four yellow cards. As Santa Monica started to get their footing and found a few seams in the Cerritos defense, sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Aldama (North Torrance HS) was there to post six saves to record his third straight postseason shutout. It was also his 12th clean sheet of the season.
Not letting up on offense, the Falcons added an insurance goal in the 83rd minute when Gallinar cleared a pass over the Santa Monica defenders to Diaz, as he capped off the play with his team-leading 20th goal of the season.
"We knew they were going to be physical, so we were prepared for that," added Artiaga. "We never faltered in anything they tried to do to us and we responded in a way that exemplifies what we've been working toward all season. Top to bottom, I think we executed systematically and the beauty of it all is that it's working."
Photos by Daryl Peterson
December 7, 2018 M. Soccer: National awards come the Falcons way
December 4, 2018 M. Soccer: Esteban Camacho signs with Cal State Northridge
December 4, 2018 M. Soccer: Cerritos earns first National Championship
November 30, 2018 M. Soccer: Semifinal win sends Falcons to the championships
November 26, 2018 M. Soccer: State tournament-bound Falcons pick up conference awards
November 24, 2018 M. Soccer: Victory sends Falcons to state Final Four
November 20, 2018 M. Soccer: Overtime playoff win advances Falcons to next round
November 17, 2018 M. Soccer: Rejuvenated Falcons post playoff win
November 13, 2018 M. Soccer: Falcons seeded #1 for the playoffs
November 9, 2018 M. Soccer: Win concludes regular season for conference champs
November 6, 2018 M. Soccer: Ninth win in a row spurned on by second half effort
November 2, 2018 M. Soccer: First half goals enough in 2-0 win
October 30, 2018 M. Soccer: Late goal gives Falcons 4-3 win
October 26, 2018 M. Soccer: Offensive output continues in 6-1 win
October 23, 2018 M. Soccer: Second half offensive explosion leads to 8-1 win
October 19, 2018 M. Soccer: Cerritos shows they can score from any position
October 16, 2018 M. Soccer: Last-second goal propels Falcons to 3-2 win
October 12, 2018 M. Soccer: Nation's top ranked team shuts out Mt. SAC
October 9, 2018 M. Soccer: Draw keeps the Falcons unbeaten in the division
October 5, 2018 M. Soccer: Win sets up first place showdown
September 28, 2018 M. Soccer: Second half goal leads Falcons to conference win
September 25, 2018 M. Soccer: Falcons open conference play with 4-2 win
September 21, 2018 M. Soccer: Slow start for Falcons in 3-1 win over Allan Hancock
September 18, 2018 M. Soccer: Rematch of state semifinal game goes the Falcons way
September 14, 2018 M. Soccer: Road win sets up rematch of state semifinal game
September 7, 2018 M. Soccer: Best scoring chance turns into lone goal
September 2, 2018 M. Soccer: Cerritos puts six on the board in win
August 31, 2018 M. Soccer: Falcons draw with defending state champ
August 28, 2018 M. Soccer: Unbeaten streak snapped with 2-1 loss