M. Soccer: Unrelenting offensive attack leads to 4-0 win

The Falcons swarm Michael Rodriguez (22) after his first of two goals against Imperial Valley College
The Falcons swarm Michael Rodriguez (22) after his first of two goals against Imperial Valley College

Using an unrelenting offensive attack, coupled with an aggressive defensive approach, the Cerritos College men's soccer team scored four second half goals to post a 4-0 win over visiting Imperial Valley College on Tuesday. The home game was the first for the Falcons since a 3-0 Southern California Regional Playoff win over Oxnard College on November 30, 2019 sent the team to the CCCAA Final Four. Cerritos (2-0-0), who has shut out both of their opponents this season, will travel to the Hartnell Tournament this weekend and will open with a 4:00 p.m. match against Fresno City College on Friday. In fact, it was the Rams to ended the Falcons season in 2019 and the team has been waiting for an opportunity to square off against one of their Northern California rival.

"Today's game felt really weird playing in front of no fans," said head coach Benny Artiaga. "I've never seen it like this. We've created a beautiful culture and not to see our fans is something we'll have to get used to. Hopefully we can get some fans in here soon."

Maintaining possession of the ball for the greater majority may not have netted any goals in the first half, but it began to wear down Imperial Valley, who entered the game with just three substitutes. Cerritos took 12 shots in the first half and nearly got on the board in extra time, but freshman Orlando Martinez (Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy HS) saw his shot hit off the post.

Martinez would go on to play a huge role in the team's win, as he scored the second goal of the game and assisted on the first and third. The scoring started just three minutes into the second half when Martinez started the push toward the Imperial Valley goal. He sent a pass to freshman Arnold Castillo (Bell Gardens HS), who was on his way to the 18-yard box. His quick pass to freshman Michael Rodriguez (Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy HS) was controlled and he flipped the ball over the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Nathan Santana, who came on in the second half.

In fact, Rodriguez was equally as instrumental, as he found the back of the net twice and added a helper. It was just three minutes later that the Falcons extended their lead to 2-0 when Rodriguez connected with Martinez, who was able to control the ball enough under pressure to deflect it into the net.

"Our team is so young and it's gonna take some time to understand our system and formation," added Artiaga. "Our coaches will have to be patient with this group, but I think the talent is here to make a serious challenge. I loved that this team is building its chemistry in different ways than we are accustomed to."

The onslaught continued six minutes later, as freshman Edwin Rodriguez (Jefferson HS) scored on a beauty that found its way into the net under the crossbar. Not to be outdone, Michael Rodriguez closed out the scoring with just over two minutes left on the clock. On another very impressive play, freshman Jaret Rocha (Paramount HS) sent a perfect crossing pass to the far post, where Michael Rodriguez headed the ball into an open net.

On the day, Cerritos out-shot Imperial Valley, 25-2, while goalkeeper freshman Alex Ledesma (Bellflower HS) was not asked to make a save.

"In the second half, we took over the game and imposed ourselves like prior Cerritos teams," continued Artiaga. "I'm very proud of our boys."

Photos by Daryl Peterson