Wanting to get off to a good start in their Southern California Regional Playoff game, the Cerritos College women's soccer team took a little over a minute to make an immediate impact. The Falcons (20-1-0), seeded #2 for the playoffs, held a 2-0 lead over #15-seeded Mt. San Antonio College less than five minutes into the game, as they turned in a 5-1 victory. The win advances the team to the second round, where they will host either Ventura College or Santa Monica College at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
With a great deal of familiarity against Mt. SAC, as they are both members of the South Coast Conference, Cerritos entered the game with a pair of shutout wins in their two meetings.
Taking control of the ball on the Mounties (15-6-1) side of the field, sophomore Ashley Anaya-Webb (Yorba Linda HS/Cal State Long Beach) worked her speed on the outside to get around the last defender. Once she made that turn, she spotted sophomore Nayeli Requejo (Bishop Amat HS) and sent a crossing pass. Requejo went up and headed the ball into the net after only 1:13 had expired off the clock. It was her 33rd goal of the season and school-record 59th in her career.
Continuing to play with intensity, the Falcons pressured the Mt. SAC defense once again, this time with freshman Jill Messersmith (Newport Harbor HS) controlling the ball. After regrouping once she found some maneuvering room, Messersmith sent a pass right in front of the goal to a wide open Ayana-Webb. The state's leading goal-scorer made it 2-0 just 4:26 into the game, as she collected her school-record 40th goal of the year.
The offensive pressure did not subside with Cerritos sending the ball to open spaces and the faster forwards beating the Mountie players to the ball. It worked again in the 26th minute when freshman Esmeralda Verdugo (Ensenada BC, Mexico HS) delivered a thru-pass to sophomore Carolina Ornelas (Arteisa HS). The speedy Ornelas faced Mt. SAC goalkeeper Brianna Rice and drilled a low, line drive that went under her arm as she dove to make the save.
The fourth first half goal against Rice forced her removal, with Anaya-Webb getting the play started. She raced down the field to get into position and with the defense on her heels, stopped and passed to sophomore Jazmin Aguas (San Pascual HS) up the middle and she drilled home the goal for a 4-0 lead right before halftime.
Cerritos maintained possession of the ball for most of the game, and if not for several big saves by both Rice and Jacqueline Torres, the score could have been even more lopsided. Aguas gave the Falcons a 5-0 lead in the 63rd minute when she scored after Anaya-Webb was stopped on a point-blank shot. After Torres made the save, Anaya-Webb regained control of the ball and connected with Aguas, who scored her second of the game and sixth of the season.
The team's 13-match shutout streak came to an end in the 76th minute when Mt. SAC scored on sophomore Adrianna Salazar (Downey HS), who picked up her 20th win of the season and made three saves.
Photos by Daryl Peterson
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