____________________________ RATES       _______________________________ ________________________ CCC

Socialize

605 LEAGUE BOYS SOCCER – Cerritos plays itself into the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, edges Oxford Academy

 

February 8, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

As a freshman, senior midfielder Jeremy Couto landed a spot on the Cerritos High boys soccer varsity team but didn’t play as much because it was his first year in high school and there were a lot of seniors. As a sophomore, Couto had a concussion and missed the entire season as the Dons advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

Couto junior’s campaign was the shortened Covid season and the Dons won just once in 10 games played. But now, Cerritos is heading back to the postseason, thanks to Couto’s leg. He scored on a pair of long range free kicks within three minutes of each other early in the second half and the Dons held on for a 2-1 victory over Oxford Academy last Thursday in a third place play-in game.

It was the first third place play-in game of any sport in the brief history of the 605 League and sent the Dons into today’s Division 7 playoff contest at ninth-ranked St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy.

“It feels amazing,” said Couto. “We’ve been working all year; all summer for this. So, it’s nice to see that it finally came together.”

Both teams were entering the contest with identical 2-2-1 league marks with the lone tie coming against each other on Jan. 27, a 2-2 affair at Oxford. The game was a make-up from the originally scheduled Jan. 4 contest while the Jan. 21 game at Cerritos was cancelled.

For Cerritos to be in this position is far contrast from the first two months of the season when the Dons were 0-7-2 and 0-2-0 in league action. But starting with a 6-0 win against John Glenn High on Jan. 18, Cerritos won four of its last six games to head into the play-in contest at 4-8-3.

“In December, it was very frustrating,” said Couto. “No one likes to lose. No one likes to tie. We were just trying to find new ways to win. We just kept our heads up, kept working and as we kept going and things started to be put together…we got a win today.”

Both teams couldn’t get much going in the first half, combining for seven shots on goal without any legitimate scoring chances.

“It was a bit rocky, especially for myself,” said Couto of the first half. “I started off slow and when [Cerritos head] coach [Edward Vasquez] took me off, I knew what I had to do. When I came in, I kept telling my teammates, ‘let’s go, let’s go’, and we were able to pull off the win.”

But all that changed 11 minutes into the second half when Couto boomed a free kick from 35 yards that found the back of the net to the right of goalkeeper Marius Sobremisana. Two minutes later and from the opposite side of the field, Couto took another free kick from about the same distance that curled towards Sobremisana, who deflected it in the upper right corner of the net.

“When I was backing off, I saw the goalie was a little bit off to the right, so I told everyone to get in just in case if he blocked it, the ball could come in and we could get it in,” said Couto. “But I told myself I was going to hit it and when I hit it, fortunately it was able to go in. So, that was nice.

“The second goal was kind of about the same thing too,” he continued. “I told them to go in just in case the goalie bobbled it and we were able to get it in. But luckily he [deflected] it and it went in the back of the net.”

With the Dons now up by two with 27 minutes remaining in regulation, the pace picked up and the play began to get a bit chippy. Cerritos would take seven shots on goal in the second half but was also whistled for six fouls. Oxford had four shots on goal in the half with junior goalkeeper Josh Moon coming up with three saves. After not getting a foul in the first half, the Patriots were whistled for four infractions after halftime. Oxford Academy drew closer in the 65th minute when Javier Luna took a corner kick and fed a pass to Andres Garcia who netted in the tally on a corner kick.

“When they scored, we knew we had to keep going because if we started to put our heads down, then we were just going to be decreased,” said Couto. “We made sure that we kept going and we kept working and win every ball every chance we had.”

The winner of today’s game will face either Newbury Park Adventist or Yeshiva High on Tuesday in the second round.