M. Soccer: Battle of unbeatens results in 4-1 Falcon win

File Photo: Bryan Ortega hat trick leads Falcons
File Photo: Bryan Ortega hat trick leads Falcons

With two of the top teams in the country squaring off against each other on Friday, the unbeaten Cerritos College men's soccer team handed host El Camino College their first loss of the season. In the latest United Soccer Coaches national poll, the Falcons (11-0-1, 2-0-0) were ranked #4 among Division III (non-scholarship) schools, while the Warriors (8-1-1, 1-1-0) entered the week ranked #7. It was also a big South Coast Conference victory for Cerritos, who extended their unbeaten streak to 38 games (35-0-3) dating back to last season. The team will host East Los Angeles College at 4:00 p.m. next Tuesday.

Standing head and shoulders over everyone else on the field was sophomore Bryan Ortega (Paramount HS), who netted a hat trick for the Falcons and helped them open up an insurmountable 4-0 second half lead.

"What an amazing victory for our team today," said head coach Benny Artiaga, who led Cerritos to a CCCAA State and United Soccer Coaches National Championship last season. "Our guys put together a great game from top to bottom. We set the tone from the first minute of the game with two golden chances and we kept griding."

Getting turned away by El Camino goalkeeper Luis Garibay didn't faze Cerritos, as they continued to attack the offensive zone until they got on the board in the 16th minute. On the play, freshman Hector Aguirre-Ruiz (Montebello HS) sent a crossing pass to Ortega, who picked up his first goal of the game. Just 13 minutes later, Aguirre-Ruiz and Ortega worked together again to put another goal on the board. Starting the attack in their own zone, Aguirre-Ruiz sent a long pass to freshman Bryan Perez (Simon Rodia HS), who one-touched the ball to Ortega for a beautiful tip-in goal.

"Bryan Ortega was spectacular today and he put the whole team on his shoulders and showed why he's one of the best players in the country," added Artiaga. "Our entire team defense did a great job of defending set pieces and establishing ourselves as the more physical team."

Prior to the end of the first half, sophomore Kevin Diaz (Connections Academy HS) got on the scoreboard when he converted a penalty kick for a 3-0 lead.

Early in the second half, Ortega completed his hat trick with his 11th goal of the season, as Diaz sent a ball over the top with Ortega completing the play with a goal past Garibay.

Although he gave up a rebound goal in the 57th minute, freshman goalkeeper Luis Enciso (Gahr HS) was solid the entire game and recorded three saves. He was aided by a strong defensive front that included sophomore Ernie Cueva (Bassett HS), David Lermas (Paramount HS/Compton College), Eugene Martinez (Delille Academy, Belize), Jorge Cardona (Connections Academy HS), along with freshman Kendrick Garcia (Fairfax HS).