M. Soccer: National awards come the Falcons way

Erick Gallinar was one of three All-Americans
Erick Gallinar was one of three All-Americans

On the heels of their first National Championship, the Cerritos College men's soccer program is now seeing individual national awards coming their way. A trio of players have earned All-American recognition by the United Soccer Coaches, while head coach Benny Artiaga and his staff have been named the West Regional Coaching Staff of the Year. Those who earned All-American honors include sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Aldama (North Torrance HS) and sophomore midfielder Erick Gallinar (Connections Academy HS/UC Irvine), who were named to the 1st Team, while freshman forward Kevin Diaz (Connections Academy HS) was a 2nd Team selection.

The honorees will be formally recognized for their accomplishments at the United Soccer Coaches All-America Ceremony & Reception on Jan. 12, 2019 at McCormick Place West in Chicago in conjunction with the 2019 United Soccer Coaches Convention.

"I am honored to receive this award again," said Artiaga, who was named the National Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2006. "Mostly because this year it states that it's the Staff of the Year, instead of Coach of the Year."

Artiaga and his Falcons opened the year with a loss, but went on to go 22-0-2 the remainder of the season, which was culminated with a 2-1 win over Golden West College in the CCCAA State Championship game. The team also won their final 14 matches of the season.

"My staff deserves this from our Recruiting Coordinator Jorge (Artiaga), who is one of the best recruiters in the business," added Artiaga. "Jose Esparza, our field technician and lead assistant, (goalie coach) Chris Lekavich, who did amazing with with (goalkeeper) Jordan, Felipe Gonzalez, our fitness guru, Alex Munoz, who's a mini-me, Felipe Bernal's passion, Juan Mejia's experience and Matt Dold's dedication to our players, makes this an amazing staff. I would also like to include our certified athletic trainer Maria Castro, who just absolutely loves our kids and works with them every day. Without her passion, I don't think we could have made it that far. And (Sports Information Director) John Van Gaston, who not only knows every player and their stats, but has been instrumental in helping get our kids out to universities because recruiters follow everything online when they can't make a game."

Aldama, who played very minute in goal for the Falcons this season, concluded his career with a 33-1-9 record and posted an 0.75 goals against average this year. In every game during the post-season, Aldama came up with crucial saves that allowed Cerritos to continue their storied season. Gallinar, who scored three times and led the team with 19 assists, which tied him for second in the state. Diaz, the team leader in goals (21), tied for third in the state and also contributed 16 assists. His 58 points were also third most in the state.

Gallinar posted five assists in the post-season, including two in the state semifinal game, while Diaz registered three goals and three assists in the five post-season games.