Goals in extra time help women’s soccer clinch state championship

Terrel Emerson

It took 96 minutes to get the first points on the board and it would prove to be more than enough for the Cerritos women’s soccer team to call itself state champions once more.

Sunday, Dec. 4, the Cerritos Falcons defeated the Diablo Valley Vikings, 2-0, in the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship in a true David vs. Goliath matchup.

Head coach Ruben Gonzalez said, “I think we’re battle tested. We had a tough game against San Bernardino and we were able to win that in penalty kicks so we were ready.”

Cerritos entered the game tied with Long Beach City College for most state championship wins in a row at four. On the other hand, Diablo Valley was playing in its first state championship game after reaching the Final Four for the first time in school history.

Gonzalez felt Diablo Valley’s game plan was obvious from the jump.

“[The Vikings] were trying to keep it [tied] at zero as long as they could and get something on a counter or a foul or something like that. I think we stepped up defensively and played a good game; it was just a matter of time because we had some opportunities we just didn’t finish,” he said.

Gonzalez mentioned to the team after its win Friday, Dec. 2 over Folsom Lake; that in order to become state champions two days later the team had to play better.

“We didn’t play that much better but we played better. I think it came down to our heart […] I think we wanted it,” he said.

Heading into this game sophomore midfielder Carolina Jaramillo felt all the pressure was on the team to get to the championship game. She also added once the team got to the big game, the team would do what it had to do in order to win the state crown again.

The team had a rough go of it to start the game. Gonzalez even admitted that there was some disappointment that set in as his team struggled to get the ball in the net.

The Diablo Valley game plan of keeping the Falcons off the board worked for the first 90 minutes of the game as the game headed into extra time squared away at zero.

That was until freshman midfielder Maria Hernandez broke the tie with an improbable goal that even shocked herself.

She said, “During halftime, [the team] was telling me to dribble and then take the shot because I was backing off. Then I took it while I was falling, so as I was getting up I saw everyone running to me and I was like ‘Oh my god, did I score?'”

Gonzalez felt that goal was exactly what the doctor ordered for his anxious Cerritos team.

“I think the girls knew we needed to come out with a sense of urgency. We knew we would be able to dictate tempo and try and get that goal,” he said.

From that point on, the Vikings found themselves in unfamiliar territory as they became the aggressor down trailing on the scoreboard.

Things would only get worse for Diablo Valley.

In the second session of extra time, Jaramillo gave the Falcons a much needed insurance goal in the ‘118 minute.

“Once we got into overtime, we saw that Diablo Valley was tired and we just wanted to keep working. [Hernandez] was able to come in and score that [first] goal,” Jaramillo said via a translator.

From that point on, it was clock watching time for the Falcons. They would only have to watch for a couple more minutes.

And once the referees blew the game dead, the realization of a long awaited fifth straight state championship dream was realized by the entire Cerritos Falcon bench as it erupted in cheers and jubilation.

“Wow. It’s been a tough grind. If you would’ve asked me five years if we could win it five in a row, I would’ve told you, ‘No.’ It’s tough, it’s a lot of work; from the coaching staff to the [players],” Gonzalez said. “It’s a cycle, you only have them for two years. So, we’ll get back on the bus and enjoy this for a couple of minutes and then we’ll start talking about next year.”

Over the last five seasons, Cerritos has compiled a remarkable record of 115-4-7.

In the midst of all the championship commotion Jaramillo was seen hunched over with her head in her hands, face full of tears.

“I just felt tired. The emotions got to me. It’s my last game here so winning a championship just kind of caught up to me,” Jaramillo said. “I feel very comfortable, my goal when I came here was to win a state championship and I was able to win it two years in a row. I am very thankful to the coaches for giving me the opportunity to play here.”

One key contributor for the Falcons win was the stellar play of Defensive Player of the Year Dana Jacobs.

“I think once we realized we were going into overtime; we understood it was now or never, we were leaving everything on the field. We were not trying to take their goalkeeper to penalty kicks and we wanted it. We wanted to make history and prove it was all worth it,” she said.

After the game, Jacobs was shocked yet pleasantly surprised that she had been awarded the Most Valuable Player award for the state championship game.

Now her freshman season has finished and she has three new titles: Defensive Player of the Year, Most Valuable Player and State Champion. After the game, Jacobs explained which title means the most to her.

“Defensive Player of the Year [means the most to me]. I’m a midfielder but we had some problems early in the season so I had to get pushed back and I’m so thankful for it,” she said.

She added that the move has done a lot for her future in soccer.

Five straight state championships is an amazing feat in it of itself, but the win makes good for Gonzalez’ sixth state title in the last nine seasons.

Many of his players see Gonzalez as an enigma that’s not easily explainable.

Jacobs said, “[Gonzalez] is definitely one of a kind. When people ask me about him, I tell them, ‘You can’t describe what he’s like, you have to experience it.’ He’s very driven, he knows exactly what he wants and he knows what he deserves and he will stop at nothing to get it.”