M. Soccer: Benny Artiaga named the Southern California Coach of the Year

Benny Artiaga with the Southern California Coach of the Year award
Benny Artiaga with the Southern California Coach of the Year award

In a season where the Cerritos College men's soccer team captured the South Coast Conference Tournament championship, as well as the SCC South Division title, head coach Benny Artiaga was rewarded by being named the Southern California Coach of the Year. It marks the second time Artiaga has received this award, presented by the California Community College Soccer Coaches Association, which started in 2017, with the Falcon head coach garnering the inaugural award.

"I'm honored to be voted Southern California Coach and Staff of the Year," stated Artiaga, who also received the conference's Coach and Staff of the Year award. "There are some amazing coaches we compete against in California, so this award allows me to showcase my amazing coaching staff. From recruiting coordinator George (Artiaga), to field session specialist JJ (Jose Esparza), Chris (Lekavich), our goalkeeper coach, and the list goes. My entire staff is so amazing and we share this together."

Artiaga and his staff led the Falcons to a 17-5-1 record, which included wins over two of the four teams that qualified for the CCCAA Final Four. They were seeded #2 for the Southern California Regional Playoffs, but were upset in the 3rd Round of the playoffs, which ended their season prematurely.

"This award is bittersweet," added Artiaga. "I could not attend the award ceremony due to my grandmother's funeral. It's ironic I received an award on the day I had to say goodbye to my Mama Chelo, because I am who I am because of her. This award is dedicated to the rock in my life, Consuelo Gallardo, and all the love and support she instilled in me since a child.

Over the course of his 16 seasons as the Cerritos head coach, Artiaga has led his programs to one National Championship, four CCCAA State Championships and six conference titles, including the last five seasons (there was no season in 2020 due to Covid-19). Along with the two SoCal Coach of the Year honors, Artiaga has also been named the National Coach of the Year twice, Far West Coach of the Year four times and South Coast Conference Coach of the Year six times.