The Wolverines boasted a star-studded lineup last season. They had the best offensive player in the league in Aaron Huang, and the best defender in Mike Ortlieb. Anchoring the defense with Ortloeb was Logan Wilkins.
But those players are all gone from the reigning Bay Valley Athletic League champions. But the Wolverines return a solid group of seniors – Phil Tam, Andrew Harrington, Andrew Wayne, Nick Richards, Solomon Abuda, Matthew Satyadi and Alex Bilderback – to lead the younger players.
The Falcons will be under the guidance of first-year coach Sal Acevedo Jr. Greeting him is an experienced group of players led by senior midfielders Rodolfo Pelayo, Edgar Mora and Jesus Gomez, junior forward Jose Lopez and junior defenders Raul Lopez and Javier Ramirez, plus junior goalie Chris Contreras.
“The team has looked good in practice,” said Acevedo. “They realize it’s going to take discipline, hard work, commitment and lots of determination to achieve our objectives – but they’re ready for the challenge.”
Acevedo is encouraged by the team chemistry he’s seen through practice and the early season. “In this my first year coaching the boys varsity soccer team at Freedom, the first attribute that caught my attention is the discipline and focus of the players,” said Acevedo. “They’re coachable and always enthusiastic about learning and improving their abilities. These are qualities a coach always looks for in a player.”
The Pirates lost a lot of talent from last season’s team, which made the playoffs and was eventually derailed by Berkeley.
The good news for the Pirates is that the cupboard isn’t bare. Leading scorer Christian Villa has graduated, but Bryan Santos and Jaime Lopez return for the Pirates, who promise to be a fixture in the league race. With the exception of Villa, every forward from Pittsburg’s team returns to Pablo Gaytan’s roster.
Deer Valley’s league title last season ended the reign of the crosstown rival Antioch Panthers, which won the title in 2009 and ’10. Head coach Julio Borge is confident his players can accomplish great things.
Anchoring the Panthers will be a strong group of seniors: center-mid Jordan Cisneros, center-mid Hector Morfin, center-back Luiz Diaz and left-mid Steven Ibanez. Their task will be to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net, which Borge currently identifies as the team’s greatest weakness.
Also important will be the performance of the team’s goalies, senior David Saldana and junior Luis Mendez.
What the team currently lacks in raw goal scoring ability it makes up for in unity, which Borge believes is the team’s greatest strength – bolstered by the return of nearly the entire Panthers roster.
Unlike many other sports, boys soccer at Heritage isn’t especially strong. But the team has grown and improved in recent years under current coach Alex Valdivia.
What’s even more encouraging for Heritage is that the team remains largely intact. Two seniors, goalie Nico Charvet and midfielder Nick Krahnke, return for the Patriots.
Heritage notched a 3-9-6 mark last season, an improvement from the previous campaign. As a sign of how much Heritage has improved, the 2009 team finished the season without a single win.
Much like their crosstown rivals at Heritage, Liberty doesn’t have far to go to improve last season’s record. Also like the Patriots, the Lions are experiencing little turnover.
As they were last season, the Lions are loaded with youth. Derek Bisping, Jesus Corona, Juan Mena, Kyle Rainsford, Josh Gherisim and Marvin Valladeres are the only seniors in a deep lineup.
Also like last season, the Lions don’t figure to score many goals. In their first three games, they’ve scored one goal. It will be the task of Mena, one of the captains, to keep his team in games.
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