Women’s soccer team dominates season awards

Terrel Emerson

Not only are the Cerritos College women’s soccer team en route to its fifth straight state championship, The Falcons are collecting some more hardware in the process.

For the second time in three years, they swept the All-South Coast Conference South Division Awards.

For the eighth time in his career head coach Ruben Gonzalez was named the South Coast Conference Coach of the Year.

“The Coach of the Year award means we have a great coaching staff. When I have won the award, all the credit goes to the [the staff]. We work very hard all year long from recruiting to practice to games. We put in many hours of work,” Gonzalez said.

He thanks his mentor, Leonardo Cuéllar for his success in coaching.

Cuéllar was at the helm for the Mexican Women’s National Soccer team.

“We speak often, he congratulated me and told me to keep up the good work. He wished me luck in the playoffs,” an excited Gonzalez said.

In addition to Gonzalez, freshman forward Itzel Ballesteros was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.

“It was an honor for me to win the Offensive Player of the Year since I know there is [a lot] of competition. I’m always surrounded by talented players and getting that award definitely meant a lot to me,” she said.

Ballesteros had 21 goals and 56 points during the regular season for the Falcons, good for the team lead.

Gonzalez had some pretty high praise for his star freshman.

“[Ballesteros] has been very good for us all season. [She is] very deserving of this honor,” he said.

With constant attention surrounding the team over the last couple of years, Ballesteros didn’t let being a freshman slow her down.

“Personally, it gave me motivation to keep working hard. I am looking forward to playing next year and putting in the same work I have been,” she said.

On the other hand, sophomore midfielder Dana Jacobs took home the award for Defensive Player of the Year. But she turned the attention off of herself and gave praise to her teammates.

“Our entire defensive line is solid and has had an amazing season, I am just happy to be a part of it. It’s an honor to be the defender of the year and I just want to keep [making] my team proud all the way to the championship,” she said.

For good reason, Jacobs has a fan in her teammate Ballesteros.

“[Jacobs] brings a lot to the team defensively. She’s very good at reading the game and being aggressive. She also is very organized and that assures the rest of us on the field,” Ballesteros said.

Aside from the three aforementioned people, eight other women’s soccer players received award honors.

Freshman midfielder Maria Hernandez, sophomore midfielder Carolina Jaramillo, sophomore forward Ashli Villalobos and sophomore forward Amber Whitmore were all named to the conference first-team.

Jaramillo has been a staple on the Falcons’ soccer team for the last two seasons. Gonzalez has nothing but good to say about his sophomore leader.

“[Jaramillo] is a difference maker and one of our leaders,” he said.

Jacobs even weighed in on the importance of having Jaramillo apart of this team.

“She is amazing. Like she is one of those players you have to see to believe. She [plays a] key role in our offense,” Jacobs said.

Jaramillo has accounted for 44 goals and 120 points in her two years in a Falcon uniform.

Sophomores Natalie De Leon, Cheyenne De Los Reyes, Jill Messersmith and Ruby Nichols were awarded second-team selections.

Gonzalez understands that while the team and himself are appreciative for the awards, they are still focused on one other award.

“Individual awards are nice but our goal is the team award of winning the championship,” he concluded.