M. Soccer: Rejuvenated Falcons post playoff win

Kevin Diaz puts away the second goal for the Falcons in their 3-0 playoff win
Kevin Diaz puts away the second goal for the Falcons in their 3-0 playoff win

Using their speed on the edge, the Cerritos College men's soccer team posted a 3-0 win over visiting Cuyamaca College on Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs. The win by the #1-seeded Falcons (18-1-2) over the #16-seeded Coyotes advances them to the next round, where they will host #8-seeded Oxnard College at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday. The Condors eliminated Long Beach City, 4-0.

"Traditionally, we have struggled in the first half of the first playoff game, and today was no different," said head coach Benny Artiaga. "We pressed a little too hard trying to swing for the fences and kind of forgot what got us here."

Breaking through Cuyamaca defense in the 23rd minute, sophomore Erick Gallinar (Connections Academy HS/UC Irvine) spotted freshman Bryan Ortega (Cesar Chavez HS), who gathered the ball on the Coyote side of the field. Recognizing that goalkeeper Miguel Angel Munoz well out of his net, Ortega sent a shot with enough topspin that it went over the keeper's head and into the net.

Heading into halftime, Artiaga let his team know that their production level needed to improve.

"I got frustrated today and we were not efficient," said Artiaga. It didn't allow me to enjoy the game. I was just thankful for the halftime break because our guys settled down and clocked back into work. We'll hopefully grow and get better for the next game against Oxnard."

The second half netted more positive results, as the Falcons put two more into the net. In the 55th minute, freshman Brandon Pelayo (Cesar Chavez HS) raced the ball down the sideline, where he spotted freshman Kevin Diaz (Connections Academy HS). Maintaining his sprint, Diaz was able to control the pass and tapped the ball past Munoz into the net for his team-leading 19th goal of the season.

Continuing their pressure, the Falcons capped off the scoring in the 75th minute on a similar play to their second goal. This time, Diaz was the one pushing the ball up the field. With control once he reached deep into Cuyamaca territory, Diaz crossed a pass to freshman Bryan Villalobos (Salesian HS), who had an open net to score into and he put the ball away, which all but secured the win.

Helping sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Aldama (North Torrance HS) claim his 18th win of the season, the Falcon defense did a fine job of standing up the Coyotes before they could get off strong shots. Led by sophomore Esteban Camacho (Mayfair HS), the defensive corp also included sophomore Luis Lira (La Puente HS), along with freshmen Ernesto Cueva (Bassett HS), Eugene Martinez (Delille Academy, Belize), Jorge Cardona (Connections Academy HS) and Allen Perez (Norwalk HS). Aldama earned his 10th shutout of the season and turned away four shots.

Photos by Daryl Peterson