M. Soccer: Shutout win advances Falcons to 3rd Round

Uriel Sanchez lines up to score the team's second goal of the game against Bakersfield
Uriel Sanchez lines up to score the team's second goal of the game against Bakersfield

In their first meeting this season with Bakersfield College, the Cerritos College men's soccer team could not get on the scoreboard and finished with a scoreless tie. On Saturday, the Falcons (20-0-2) were able to score once in each half to defeat the Renegades, 2-0 in their Southern California Regional Playoff 2nd Round game. Seeded #1 for the postseason, Cerritos will now host a 3rd Round game on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. against #8-seeded Santa Monica, who defeated #9-seeded San Bernardino Valley College, 1-0. The #16-seeded Renegades finished their season with an 8-7-7 record.

"Today was a great win for us," said head coach Benny Artiaga. "I'm proud of our guys. We had the flu all week and only had one real (practice) session. We told the guys that when you're adult men with kids, you don't call in sick if you have mouths to feed. We even nicknamed it, "The Flu Game."

Although the Falcons maintained possession of the ball from the outset of the game, they were still unable to connect that final pass that led to a high percentage scoring chance. The Renegades were only able to cross midfield three times through the first 15 minutes of the contest.

Once Cerritos was able to get inside the 18-yard box, they seized the opportunity to come away with the game's first goal. After two shots were blocked and deflected away, sophomore Chris Corona (Pioneer HS) bounced a pass to sophomore defender Raul Ortiz (Oscar De La Hoya HS/East Los Angeles College), who scored his first goal of the season. Ortiz was able to get his shot past several pairs of legs to put the Falcons on the board.

The slow start was not lost on Artiaga, who is looking to lead his Falcons to their fifth CCCAA state championship and first since 2018.

"The first playoff game is always tough, too," added Artiaga. "Our team showed grit and perseverance, and hopefully the guys can get healthy and rested for next game."

Through the first half, the Cerritos defense did not allow a shot on goal, while freshman goalkeeper Steven Ruiz (Cathedral HS) was only asked to make two saves on the day. However, Bakersfield was able to work their way into Falcon territory early in the second half and had four corner kicks to try and tie the score. After the nearly three-minute pressure the Renegades put on, the Falcons were able to counter and added an insurance goal.

Freshman Kobe Chavez (North Hollywood HS) was able to get the ball cleared out of the defensive end, where sophomore Uriel Sanchez (Servite HS) took over from there. After receiving the pass, Sanchez dribbled the ball around two defenders, and when he had a small window of opportunity, he fired a perfect shot into the far upper corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

Photos by Daryl Peterson