Boys Soccer Preview: Back-to-back defending champ Mountain View leads the way again


Above: Mountain View soccer players Manuel Garcia, left, Oswaldo Martinez, Eduardo Naranjo and Jesus Valdez at Mountain High School on Wednesday, November 24, 2010, in El Monte. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Keith Birmingham)

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
The newly formed Hacienda League and CIF-Southern Section divisional realignment are the newest wrinkles to the 2010-11 boys soccer season. Back-to-back Division 6 champion Mountain View, winner of three titles since 2005, will be moving to Division 5, which will be much tougher but still winnable with Salesian leaving for Division 4. The Mission Valley League champion will be joined in Division 5 by the Valle Vista League, which boasts two-time defending champion Baldwin Park, and the neighboring Rio Hondo League, but there are several other difficult leagues in the division, such as the Tri-Valley, Pac-7, Harbor and Garden Grove leagues, to name a few. (To continue reading top ten, click thread).

SGVN Boys Soccer pre-season top ten rankings
Team (2009-10 Record)
1. Mountain View (16-4-5)
2. Sierra Vista (18-5-1)
3. Diamond Bar (12-8-1)
4. Los Altos (16-5-4)
5. Chino Hills (13-8-5)
6. Bonita (7-11-2)
7. Glendora (17-5-5)
8. La Puente (12-3-6)
9. Baldwin Park (24-1-1)
10. Ganesha (12-6-3)


The Hacienda League, which features Bonita, Diamond Bar, Diamond Ranch, Los Altos, Rowland and West Covina, will compete in Division 4 along with teams from the Montview and Del Rio leagues and the Del Rey, which is the home of Bishop Amat.

The Sierra League is without defending champion Glendora, which moves to the Baseline League and will have to compete in Division I – a daunting task.

The Sierra League now includes Damien, South Hills, Charter Oak, Chino Hills, Ayala and Claremont and will make life difficult for Charter Oak and South Hills, which struggled in the Miramonte and San Antonio leagues, respectively.

Winter tournaments start this week and league play begins in January. Here’s a look at our preseason top 10:

1. Mountain View (16-4-5)

The Vikings, the face of Valley boys soccer since 2005, cemented their status with back-to-back Division 6 titles, including a thrilling 2-1 win over Hesperia in last year’s title game.

The Vikings earned an invitation to the Santa Barbara Showcase Invitational, in which they’ll be one of 56 teams competing during the Dec. 10-12 event at UC Santa Barbara, site of this year’s Final Four in college soccer.

“It’s an honor to compete in it,” Vikings coach Felipe Corona said of the tourney. “I don’t know how we will compete with so many great teams.

“This isn’t the best team we’ve ever had, but we prove year in and year out that we produce good soccer teams. We will go there and give it our best shot.”

The Vikings return three of their four starting defenders and goalkeeper Oswaldo Martinez, who had a huge impact in last year’s playoff run.

Returning on the back line are Manuel Garcia, Jesus Valdez and Eduardo Naranjo.

The Vikings have to replace scorer Julio Fernandez and playmaker Diego Rodriguez, the heart and soul of the back-to-back champions.

Marcelo Rodriguez, who had three goals last season, will be the Vikings’ go-to forward. Senior midfielder Jesus Ordaz and winger Jesus Mariscal figure to play prominent roles as well.

“Everything starts in the back, so from a defensive standpoint, we really don’t miss a beat,” Corona said, “but our midfield and forward play is a different story. We like who we’re going to send out there, but we lost a lot of firepower. That’s never easy to replace.”

2. Sierra Vista (18-5-1)

The defending Montview League champion Dons graduated one of the area’s best forwards in Luis Fuentes, but senior Giovani Munoz is there to pick up the slack after totaling five goals and five assists a year ago.

The top returners are senior sweeper Alex Espinosa and a pair of sophomores, midfielder Alexander Piceno and goalkeeper Luis Verduzco, who made varsity as freshmen.

3. Diamond Bar (12-8-1)

The Brahmas finished third in the Sierra League and likely will be favored to win the newly formed Hacienda League.

All-area forward Matt Jean has graduated, but the Brahmas return a senior- dominated team led by midfielder/forward Adam Camacho and Michael Luzzi, who was second-team All-Sierra last year.

They also return sweeper Alex Perez, stopper Nick Radar and center midfielder Ernest Maldanado.

With marking back Kevin Knight and forward Nel Ignacio, this could be a dangerous team.

“Many people feel as if the Hacienda League is a step down from the Sierra League,” Brahmas coach Kemp Wells said. “I disagree.

“Five of the teams made the playoffs last year and two of the teams were league champions. If we stay healthy, there will be no excuses. We should compete for a league championship.”

4. Los Altos (16-5-4)

The Miramonte League champion Conquerors graduated leading scorer Alan Del Rosa, but they welcome back one of the area’s best players in midfielder Juan Mendoza, a center midfielder who competes for the Los Angeles Galaxy academy team and already has given a verbal commitment to attend the University of Riverside.

Mendoza didn’t compete last year because of club commitments, but he’s going to help this season, especially with the Conquerors losing so much firepower.

Los Altos does return goalkeeper Alexi Montiel and junior defender Aaron Valdez.

5. Chino Hills (13-8-5)

With defending Sierra League champ Glendora off to the Baseline League and South Hills and Charter Oak new to the Sierra League, Chino Hills is in a good spot to battle for the Sierra League title, along with Claremont and Damien.

The Huskies lost almost all of their back line, but they return a pair of midfielders in junior Joey Santana and sophomore playmaker Alex Sanchez, as well as sweeper Jack Austin.

Kris Korich is expected to be their go-to player up front.

6. Bonita (7-11-2)

The Bearcats finished in a tie for third in the Miramonte League and return eight starters from a team that lost a lot of close games in 2009.

Junior Raul Martinez was last year’s MVP but won’t return until January because he has club commitments to fulfill.

Senior scorer Leonardo Grigg figures to shoulder the scoring load, and Dean Leonard is back at goalkeeper.

Sweeper Quincee Worrell and defender Spence Shulkin are two of the best players in what could be a tight Hacienda League race that several teams have the potential to win.

“It’s probably one of the most evenly matched leagues I’ve been in,” Bonita coach Adam Archibald said. “Every game is going to be a battle; I don’t think there is a clear-cut favorite.”

7. Glendora (17-5-5)

The Tartans won the Sierra League title and advanced to the second round of the Division 2 playoffs, where they lost to Riverside Poly 1-0.

The Tartans graduated midfielder Jeremy Bishop, but they bring back Sierra League first-team and San Gabriel Valley second-team forward Josh Luevanos, who had a team-high 15 goals and 10 assists.

Also back are junior midfielder Tanner Whitworth and forward Patrick Vincent, but how well the Tartans adjust to the more powerful Baseline League and Division 1 competition remains to be seen.

Los Osos and Rancho Cucamonga dominated the Baseline last year along with Claremont, which finished third.

If the Tartans reach the playoffs this season, it will be a huge accomplishment. As it is, they’re the only area team that will compete in Division 1.

8. La Puente (12-3-6)

The Warriors finished second to Sierra Vista in the Montview League, and eight returning starters give coach Bahram Alavi plenty of optimism.

Three of those starters – David Ramirez, Luis Chavez and Carlos Zavala – have been on the team since they were freshmen.

Also returning is goalkeeper Rene Beltran and holding midfielder Augustine Lozano.

“I still think Sierra Vista is the team to beat until someone knocks them off,” Alavi said. “The Montview has become such a tough league. You have Sierra Vista, us, Duarte and Azusa that all play well, and now you add the unknown of Ganesha.

“It will be tough fighting for a playoff spot, but I like what we have coming back, and our attitude.”

9. Baldwin Park (24-1-1)

The Braves won their second consecutive Valle Vista League title and advanced to the Division 5 semifinals for the second year in a row, which followed the Braves’ only championship appearance the previous season.

The Braves will be solid, but they won’t be nearly as talented after losing super scorer Edgar Padilla and almost all of their starting lineup, including area goalkeeper of the year Freddy Salazar.

Coach Ricardo Mira, however, always does a good job, and the Braves will be favored to win league again.

The Braves need senior Christian Garcia to step up after totaling 10 goals and four assists a year ago. Also back is senior Juan Morales.

10. Ganesha (12-6-3)

The Giants gave Baldwin Park a run for its money in the Valle Vista League and advanced to the second round of the Division 5 playoffs before losing to Cajon on penalty kicks.

With six starters back and a senior- dominated team, the Giants hope their move to the Montview League translates into a league title, although Sierra Vista and La Puente won’t just hand it to the newcomers.

“We’re excited about going into this new league,” coach Damien Galvan said. “We’re aware that Sierra Vista is the team to beat, but we feel like we can play spoilers.

“We’re definitely going to compete and try to win the league title.”

The Giants return leading scorer Luis Flores, who had 12 goals last season as a sophomore.

They also return senior center midfielder Jesus Laguna, outside midfielder Carlos Sanchez, defender Ivan Garcia and goalkeeper Felix Arambula.

fred.robledo@sgvn.com 626-962-8811, ext. 2161

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  • Que Paso?

    WOW!!!!

    Damien was once in the national rankings in soccer and has gone thru tough time recently although I never thought they wouldn’t be ranked “locally”. Wow, wow and triple wow!!!

    Where’s the next Vela, Horne, Paul, and others?

  • jcaz

    You know, there was a time when soccer would even register on anyone’s radar screen, but latley, soccer has really come into it’s own.

    Previously, I never really cared much for the game, having grown up with American football, but I have to admit that every now and then I’ll sit in on a game or two while waiting to pick up my nephews at both Amat and Sierra Vista.

    It’s actually quite a fun game, and as a side note, it’s cool to see that a lot of the players who are on those teams are the very same kids who played on Friday nights !

    Anyway, Sierra Vista number two, man that’s great !

    Go Dons !

  • Wells

    Fred:

    Thanks for the coverage.

    There will be some great games in league play this season.

    Good luck to all.

  • Soccer Fan

    Your are right about Mountain View facing tougher opponents in Division IV. Although Salesian is not in D IV anymore, Animo and La Canada are still there! La Canada took Salesian to overtime last season in the playoffs. They beat Mountain View 2-1 earlier this week. I see them as the favorite in Division IV.

    I know Sierra Vista lost some talent to graduation, but I’m confident that they will put a solid team on the field. Does anyone have a score or report on how the Salesian vs. Sierra Vista game went? I think it was on Wednesday.

  • Speedracer

    Sierra vista lost to Salesian 3-1.

  • soccer lvr

    Just wanted to say that recent Sierra Vista graduate, Luis Fuentes, helped Mt. Sac win back-to-back state championships today, 4-0. He scored a penalty kick first half, and then two more goals second half. In the semi-final game on Friday he assited in both goals scored. I see great things in his future.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/soccer/post/_/id/4966/jc-mt-sac-makes-it-two-in-a-row

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