The calendar may say it's October, but the way both the Cerritos College and Mt. San Antonio College men's soccer teams played on Friday, it might as well be December, which is when the state championships are held. The two national powers played to a 1-1 tie in South Coast Conference play, as the Mounties (13-0-2, 4-0-1) came into the game ranked #1 in the nation by United Soccer Coaches among Division III (non-scholarship) colleges. The Falcons (13-0-3, 4-0-2) entered the week ranked #4 and will travel to Pasadena City College for a 4:00 p.m. conference game on Tuesday. The draw also extended the Falcons unbeaten streak to 40 games (35-0-5) dating back to last season.
It was a game of ebb and flow, as both teams had pristine chances of scoring, but were either turned away by a keeper save, or a shot missed the target. In the 19th minute, the Mounties had a goal negated by an offside call, while sophomore Bryan Villalobos (Salesian HS) missed the lower right side of the net on his shot after getting behind the Mt. San Antonio defense.
The chances kept coming, as the Mounties had two of their shots cleared away before reaching the goal line, with sophomore Ernie Cueva (Bassett HS) battling Jason Garcia in front of the net and held him at bay before he could get a clean shot on net. Another great chance by Cerritos came in the 52nd minute, as sophomore Kevin Diaz (Connections Academy HS) had Mountie keeper Alain Hernandez out of the net, but he missed on an open net attempts in the 52nd minute.
Mt. SAC finally broke through in the 56th minute when Gerardo Cazares was able to control a pass from Angel Santoyo and get a shot off that cleared the Cerritos defense and goalkeeper Luis Enciso (Gahr HS). Not deflated by the goal, the Falcons turned up the heat and was able to tie the game four minutes later.
Freshman Bryan Perez (Simon Rodia HS) lofted a pass into traffic, where sophomore Alexis Vera (Fremont HS) was there to direct the ball into the net for his second goal of the season.
With such a tough game behind them, Falcon head coach Benny Artiaga feels that this was a great test for his team. "This was an extremely tough game by two heavyweights coming out throwing big, strong punches, but neither were connecting early," stated Artiaga. "I'm still proud of our guys. I guess we'll have to wait until the second match in the conference tournament to possibly see them again."
Photos by Daryl Peterson
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