Player of the Year: BRETT JENKINS, Damien, Senior
By Fred J. Robledo
Brett Jenkins thought Damien lost too many talented players to challenge for the school’s first outright Sierra League title since 2006.
But the senior attacking midfielder didn’t expect the chemistry to come together the way it did, resulting in the outright league title and a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 second-round appearance as the Spartans finished the season 15-4-3.
Jenkins was the catalyst, finishing with a team-leading 12 goals and 13 assists in earning Sierra League most valuable player honors.
Jenkins, who was a Sierra league first-team selection as a junior, was also named to the prestigious CIF-SS Division 1 first team, and for his outstanding season, has been selected the San Gabriel Valley Tribune boys soccer player of the year for 2012-13.
“Going into the season we didn’t know what to expect and we had a rough start losing to Hesperia (2-0 in the third game of the season),” Jenkins said. “We didn’t have the individuals we had last year but we came together and played better as a team.
“When you look back, it was a great season, everyone stepped up and played a part.”
Jenkins was the perfect blend of playmaker and scorer.
He had five assists in an 8-0 win over South Hills, notched a hat trick in a 3-0 win over Charter Oak and scored two goals with two assists in a 5-0 non-league win over Arroyo.
It was that kind of balance that orchestrated the attack game after game.
“I had to find a way to get the ball in the back of the net,” Jenkins said. “And I give my teammates a lot of credit too. I don’t get assists if they don’t finish. We had a lot of players who could finish.”
Jenkins hasn’t decided where he will wind up next. St. Mary’s is an option, but he would also like to stay closer to home.
He will likely make his college decision over the coming months.
“We’ll see what happens, I’m still going over my options,” Jenkins said. “But all in all, I couldn’t of asked for a better senior season.
“This was a great team to play with, we all supported each other and got better toward the end of the year.”
Coach of the Year: ERIC McELREA, Damien
The Spartans are known for their soccer, having produced U.S. soccer legend Ricky Davis and back-to-back CIF-Southern Section title teams in 2005 and `06.
But the Spartans haven’t done much damage in the playoffs since and hadn’t won a Sierra League title outright since 2006. That finally changed. Damien won the Sierra League title outright with an 8-2 record and finished 14-5-3 overall, advacning to the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs. For his efforts, McElrea has been selected the San Gabriel Valley Tribune boys soccer coach of the year.
TRIBUNE FIRST TEAM
Michael Sanchez, Damien, Senior
The sturdy defender was named to the Sierra League first team and was a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 second-team selection. He was part of a defense that only allowed 19 goals. Sanchez also helped the league champion Spartans advance to the second-round of the Division 1 playoffs.
Alex Henry, Los Altos, Senior
The Conquerors’ senior defender was one of the area’s best ball stoppers, helping his team to a share of the Hacienda League title and second-round appearance in the CIF-SS Division 5 playoffs. Henry was named first-team all Hacienda League and was part of a defense that only allowed 17 goals in 30 games.
Gabe Brown, Diamond Bar, Senior
Was arguably the areas best all-around defender for the 15-7-2 Brahmas. He was named to the Hacienda League first team and also found ways to produce on the offensive end, finishing with four goals and three assists. He helped his team to a 2-1 victory over Laguna Beach in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 5 playoffs.
Danny Hernandez, Walnut, Junior
The Mustangs’ attacking midfielder was a Hacienda League first-team selection for the co-league champions. He was a natural attacking midfielder who finished with nine goals and seven assists in helping his team reach the second round of the CIF-SS Division 5 playoffs.
Juan Gutierrez, Pomona, Senior
The midfield general helped the Red Devils reach the second round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs and led his team to the Valle Vista League title and an impressive 14-5-4 overall record. Gutierrez was a Valle Vista league first team selection and all-league choice for the second straight year.
Jorge Ramos, South Hills, Senior
Was the architect of the Huskies’ offense, controlling the midfield and final third in leading his team to a playoff spot from the competitive Sierra League. Ramos was named to the all-area soccer team for the second straight year and was a Sierra League first-team choice.
Ben Santia, Claremont, Senior
The Wolfpack midfielder could do it all, nearly helping his team reach the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals, losing to eventual finalist Servite in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. Santia was named to the prestigious Division 1 first team and also was a Sierra League first-team selection.
Benjamin Jimenez, Damien, Senior
The Spartans’ slippery forward was named to the Sierra League first-team after helping his team to the league title and finishing with 11 goals and eight assists. He had a spectacular game in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, scoring all three goals in the Spartans’ 3-1 victory.
Matthew Lares, Rowland, Senior
The striker was so highly thought of despite the Raiders finishing fifth in the Hacienda League that he was named the Hacienda League most valuable player, something rarely earned for non-playoff teams. And for good reason, Lares finished with 21 of the Raiders’ 31 goals this season.
Mario Interiano, Walnut, Senior
Walnut’s leading scorer stood just over 5 feet, 4 inches, but was one of the most explosive players in the area, finishing with 18 goals and seven assists for the co-league champions. The striker was named to the Hacienda League first team, and was an all-league selection for the third straight season.
Dayker Villalobos, Baldwin Park, Senior
The areas best goalkeeper was named to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 first-team and was the Valle Vista League most valuable player. Villalobos almost singlehandly helped the Braves finish third in the Valle Vista league and reach the playoffs, despite its struggles on the field.
Defender: Alexis Godina, Baldwin Park, Senior
Defender: Steven Mancia, Claremont, Sophomore
Defender: Garrett Souza, Damien, Senior
Defender: Eddie Hurtado, Pomona, Senior
Midfielder: Alexander Piceno, Sierra Vista, Senior
Midfielder: Guillermo Sanchez, Sierra Vista, Senior
Midfielder: Austin Bishop, Glendora, Sophomore
Forward: Michael Flores, Sierra Vista, Junior
Forward: Kelley Collins, Claremont, Senior
Forward: Grayson Iwasaki, South Hills, Senior
Goalkeeper: Mike O’Toole, Damien, Senior
Kase Vollebregt, Diamond Bar, Senior
Steve Flores, Charter Oak, Junior
Gabriel Florez, Ayala, Senior
Adam Fox, Los Altos, Junior
Sam Williams, Damien, Senior
Wyatt Deane, Bonita, Senior
Gerardo, Hernandez, West Covina, Senior
Oscar Briceno, Rowland, Senior
Sergio Ramirez, Chino Hills Junior
Edgar Gomez, Azusa, Senior
Ruben Cueva, Bassett, Senior
Edward Mancilla, Bishop Amat, Senior
Juan Estrada, Sierra Vista, Senior
Josue Horan, La Puente, Senior
Carlos Loreto, Ganesha, Senior
Nathan DiFiori, Bishop Amat, Junior
FINAL TOP TEN
1. Damien (15-4-3)
2. Walnut (16-4-1)
3. Los Altos (16-7-2)
4. Sierra Vista (17-2-4).
5. Pomona (14-5-4)
6. Claremont (13-8-1)
7. South Hills (11-8-3)
8. Mountain Viwe (11-6-1)
9. Diamond Bar (15-7-2)
10. Nogales (10-5-2)
MontvieW: Sierra Vista
Del Rey: Cathedral
Mission Valley: Mountain View
Baseline: Los Osos
Hacienda: Los Altos, Walnut
Valle Vista: Pomona
GAME OF THE YEAR: Damien 3, Tesoro 1, CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, first round
Wasn’t just the game of the year but perhaps the performance of the season turned in by Damien striker Benajamin Jimenez, notching a hat-trick and scoring all three goals in the Spartans’ victory.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first minute, Jimenez leveled the match in the 30th minute and went to work in the second half to finish the job.
Jimenez scored in the 43rd and 60th minute, and nearly scored his fourth goal an a spectacular bicycle attempt that sailed wide.
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