M. Soccer: Win puts Falcons as #3-seed for conference tournament

Falcons celebrate with Halmar Carranza (24), who scored the third goal of the day for Cerritos
Falcons celebrate with Halmar Carranza (24), who scored the third goal of the day for Cerritos

With their 3-1 win over visiting Rio Hondo College on Tuesday, the Cerritos College men's soccer team earned the #3-seed for the South Coast Conference Tournament, which will start on Friday. The Falcons (11-5-3, 5-2-2), who came in second place in the South Division, will host #6-seed Los Angeles City College at 2:00 p.m. on Friday. In their first meeting this season, Cerritos recorded a 2-0 victory.

"Our boys, top to bottom, played one of our most complete games," said head coach Benny Artiaga. "Players like Brandon Sanchez and Jose Lopez played absolutely lights out today and we're hoping they can continue their play into playoffs."

The Falcons scored the first three goals of the game, with the Roadrunners responding with their lone goal in the 85th minute. In the 35th minute, freshman Jose Lopez (MY Academy HS) scooped up a loose ball and sent a quick pass to sophomore Kevin Meza (ASU Preparatory Academy HS/Northern Illinois University), who was able to chip the ball past Rio Hondo goalkeeper Diego Bastias for the first goal of the game.

Prior to the goal, Rio Hondo had a chance to take the lead when Ariel Solano hit the far post on a shot. Right after their goal, Cerritos had a shot turned aside by the crossbar on a shot fired by Lopez.

Early in the second half, Brandon Sanchez (Long Beach Jordan HS) was able to strip the ball from a Roadrunner defender and scored into an open net, as the keeper also came out to play the ball. The goal in the 58th minutes turned out to be the game-winner. It also came five minutes after Meza hit the outside of the post on a hard shot.

Cerritos closed out the scoring in the 83rd minute on a beautiful play that saw Halmar Carranza (Lakewood HS) bring the ball into Rio Hondo territory, and he quickly sent a pass to Lopez. Not wasting any time, Lopez crossed the ball to Donavan Perez (South East HS), who scored on a one-timer for his team-leading 10th goal of the season.

Not tested much on the day, sophomore goalkeeper Juan Pablo Camacho (Norwalk HS) recorded six second-half saves to earn the win.

Photos by Darly Peterson