M. Soccer: Defender Javier Cortez signs with four-year school

Javier Cortez (4) signed with Kansas Wesleyan University
Javier Cortez (4) signed with Kansas Wesleyan University

Although he played in just 12 games, Cerritos College sophomore defender Javier Cortez (San Diego Virtual School HS) secured a scholarship to play at Kansas Wesleyan University next season. Of those 12 games, Cortez started in five of them with the Falcons posting a 12-0-0 record with six of those games ending in shutout victories. He will be joining former teammates Ronald Gonzlalez and Jose Rivera, who signed with Kansas Wesleyan after last season and will be the 16th player since 2004 to sign with the Coyotes.

"I get very emotional when talking about Javi," said head coach Benny Artiaga. "He's a class act kid that waited his turn this season and was instrumental in our winning a title. He was here three years and patiently waiting his turn and was 100 percent ready when his name was called."

"Although I had other offers, this was the best fit for me due to pursuing my degree and continuing playing soccer at a top level," said Cortez. "Their environment seems to feel like home to me and the coaching staff is very caring toward the players on and off the field. Also having two ex-teammates from the previous year at Cerritos, I know we can contribute the same mindset and push the team for success."

Cortez was part of a Cerritos team that went 22-1-2 on the season and won the CCCAA State Championship and were named National Champions. Although he didn't record any points, Cortez helped clear the ball out of danger, while at the same time serving as a role that began offensive plays with fine passes.

"Cerritos prepared me physically and mentally to play at the next level," said Cortez. "Not only was there learning on the field, our coaching staff made us understand the importance of what a student-athlete actually is and how important it is to be a role model on campus and off. Also, how we have to sacrifice certain stuff in life to become successful. Now I'm prepared to face what's in store for me in the future with a positive mindset."

Last season, the Coyotes posted a 17-5-0 record and won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship. They qualified for the NAIA National Championship Tournament, but suffered a 2-1 season-ending loss to Mid America Christian College in the opening round, which snapped their 15-match winning streak.

"Javi is the best teammate we ever had at Cerritos," added Artiaga. "He's just an exceptional young man. He played crucial minutes for us this season at a time where guys either were hurt or not playing well and our team didn't skip a beat when Javi was in."

"What I will remember the most about playing at Cerritos is my teammates/brothers and the bond we all built together on and off the field," continued Cortez. "Also, I'll never forget how each training session was always a battle against each other. We would leave it all on the field which made us twice as strong when it came to game day. We all had the same mindset which was to WIN everything and we sacrificed a lot to achieve our goal. Being part of National Championship team is a wonderful feeling because we overcame obstacles that were thrown in front of us and never gave up. This will definitely be a life long memory."

Cortez follows in a long line of Falcon players who have transferred to Kansas Wesleyan. The college suffered a huge tragedy back in 2010 when Eddie Valencia and Carlos Ornelas were killed in an automobile accident while driving to Kansas after signing their scholarship paperwork. A third Cerritos player, Briant Reyes, survived the accident.

"This scholarship could not have happened to a better person," said Artiaga. "I know that Eddie and Carlos will be carefully keeping an eye on him for the next two years."