M. Soccer: Win advances Cerritos to 4th Round of playoffs

Antonio Negrete (standing) chips in the game-winning goal for the Falcons
Antonio Negrete (standing) chips in the game-winning goal for the Falcons

It came down to the wire, but the Cerritos College men's soccer team came away with a 2-1 victory over visiting Santa Monica College on Tuesday to advance to the 4th Round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs. With the win, the #1-seeded Falcons (21-0-2) will host #5-seeded Mt. San Antonio College at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday with the winner advancing to the CCCAA State Final Four. The Mounties (15-6-2) advanced to the 4th Round by outscoring #4-seeded El Camino, 5-3 on penalty kicks after the two schools played to a 2-2 tie through regulation and overtime.

This will be the third meeting of the season for Cerritos against Mt. SAC, with the Falcons posting 2-1 and 3-2 wins, with the second coming two weeks ago in the championship match of the South Coast Conference Tournament.

Steven Ruiz (0) made a game-saving stop in the final seconds of the game Holding a 2-1 lead over the Corsairs (15-4-5) late in the game, freshman goalkeeper Steven Ruiz (Cathedral HS) was faced with Taj Winnard coming right at him after stealing the ball from 20 yards out. Ruiz (pictured, left), who made six saves in the match, stepped up and turned away the hard shot from Winnard in the final seconds of the game. Earlier in the half, Ruiz, who improved to 14-0-0 on the year, made a save on Adam Abou-Hamad from point blank shot to preserve the victory.

Cerritos opened the scoring in the game in the 15th minute when sophomore Enrique Penate (Downtown Magnet HS) headed in a deflected ball that rolled slowly into the net past Cesar Gomez, who was out defending the cluster of players in the 18-yard box. Not long before the opening goal, Santa Monica had a goal disallowed due to an offside call.

Faced with some Santa Monica offensive pressure, sophomore defender Jared Rocha (Paramount HS) was called for a foul while trying to bring the ball out of the 18-yard box. The foul against Jason Moreno resulted in a penalty kick for the Corsairs. Alexander Lalor stepped up and converted the penalty kick in the 76th minute to the the game.

Angered by the call, Cerritos re-ignited their offense and just over six minutes later, score the eventual game-winning goal. On the play, the Falcons had a corner kick that was defended, while several follow-up shot attempts were blocked before they got to Gomez. Freshman Diego Alvarado (Sierra Vista HS) was able to push the ball to sophomore Anthony Negrete (St. John Bosco HS), who chipped the ball into the net for his 11th goal of the season, which is now tied for the team lead.

The defense did a fine job holding off the Corsairs, and received excellent play from Rocha, Raul Ortiz (Oscar De La Hoya HS/East Los Angeles College), Alfredo Ortiz (Oscar De La Hoya HS/East Los Angeles College) and Ernesto Vergara (Bishop Mora Salesian HS), who complimented the play of Ruiz.

Photos by Daryl Peterson