M. Water Polo: Playoff win sends Falcons to 3C2A State Tournament

File Photo: Kobe Hurtado (2) scored the game-winning goal against Mt. San Antonio
File Photo: Kobe Hurtado (2) scored the game-winning goal against Mt. San Antonio

With the 3C2A sending four teams from both Southern California and Northern California to the state tournament, the Cerritos College men's water polo team needed just one win to advance for the first time since 2012. Seeded #5 for the Southern California Regional Playoffs at Citrus College, the Falcons were facing #4-seeded Mt. San Antonio College, who defeated Cerritos a week ago in the South Coast Conference Tournament Championships. The game was a back-and-forth affair, but the Falcons were able to score the final four goals of the game and posted a 13-12 win.

The victory sends Cerritos (22-9) to the SoCal semifinals on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. against #1-seeded Golden West College. Regardless of the outcome of the game, the Falcons are advancing to the 3C2A State Tournament. However, the team will be looking for one of their biggest upsets in school history with a win over the Rustlers, a team head coach Joe Abing has never beaten and is 0-26 in his career.

In the win over the Mounties, the match was tied four times in the third period, as both teams traded goals. Mt. SAC seemed to have put enough distance between them and the Falcons, as they opened the fourth period with three consecutive goals. But Cerritos was up to the challenge, as they tightened up on defense and scored on three of their next four possessions after falling behind 12-9 to tie the match. Freshman Diego Diaz (Montebello HS) scored two of the goals in the fourth period, while sophomore Kobe Hurtado (Cerritos HS) accounted for the third goal.

The tying goal came on a 6-on-5 advantage for the Falcons, and with time running out, the Mounties were called for another exclusion with :54 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Cerritos was able to get the eventual game-winning goal from Hurtado with :36 seconds left, while the defense turned away Mt. SAC on their final possession with a steal. After calling timeout, the Falcons were able run out the clock for the win.

Freshman Joshua Lamberton (Glendora HS) scored a team-high four goals and drew seven of the 15 Mountie exclusions, while Diaz added three goals and two assists. The duo of Chavez and sophomore Silvestre Chavez (Downey HS) both scored twice, with sophomore goalkeeper Diego Campos (Downey HS) coming up with 11 key saves to help secure the victory.