M. Soccer: Cerritos earns first National Championship

Cerritos was officially named the National Champions
Cerritos was officially named the National Champions

Just 72 hours after winning their fourth CCCAA State Championship in school history, the Cerritos College men's soccer team found out they were named the National Champions for the first time in history. The Falcons, who defeated Golden West College, 2-1 on Sunday in Ventura, were informed Tuesday afternoon that they have been named National Champions by United Soccer Coaches among Division III (non-scholarship) schools.

Richland (TX) College, who won the NJCAA championship, finished ranked #2. They came out to California during the season and defeated both West Valley College and Mt. San Antonio College. Neither school advanced to the state Final Four, while Cerritos also defeated Mt. San Antonio during the season.

In the three previous seasons that the Falcons won the state championship, they finished second in the national ranking.

"It's such an amazing feeling for our boys," said head coach Benny Artiaga, who has led the team to all four of their state titles. "In 2014, we really felt slighted, so this year, we grabbed hold of the #1 national ranking early on and didn't relinquish it."

The Falcons, who opened the season with a loss, went on to go unbeaten in their final 24 games (22-0-2), which included wins in their final 14 matches. They assumed the #1 national ranking in the sixth poll on October 9 and never looked back. Their strength of schedule, which included playing all three of the other schools that reached the state Final Four, and 12 teams that qualified for the post-season, was instrumental in earning the title.

"I'm so proud of our staff and players," added Artiaga. "They worked so hard and this is a true validation. We really did feel unbeatable. We could only control what was in front of us, so I kept telling our guys, 'how about we just don't lose'."