By Peter Dugré
Boys soccer teams visiting Carpinteria to play at either Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium or on the Cate School Mesa have faced near certain defeat in recent seasons. Last season the two teams combined for three losses in the 93013. One of the losses was CHS playing at Cate School, when Cate won the Crosstown Showdown by a score of 2-0 on Jan. 4. After that preseason loss inside city limits, neither of the two teams lost another game in Carpinteria and both won league titles.
Cate (20-2-1) captured a second consecutive CIF Southern Section Division 7 Championship before losing in the CIF Regional Tournament. The Warriors (15-7-1) lost in the second round in Division 4 playoffs after posting a 10-1-1 Tri-Valley League record. However, that was last season, and the two soccer programs that have raised the bar with their recent successes start at ground zero hoping that the 2012-2013 campaign will bring similar—and even greater—successes.
Warrior boys soccer:
Most notably different on the Carpinteria High School boys soccer sideline, four-year coach Daniel Torres walked away after a successful run, and first-year coach Leo Quintero will now steer the ship. Quintero said he will not implement any big changes. The team’s up-tempo style fits well with his soccer philosophy, and the most important aspect of the coaching transition has been for him to learn the boys’ personalities and see how they come together as a unit. The team has talent and confidence, he said, it’s now a matter of translating that into wins.
“They’re pretty upbeat about the season. Most guys are looking forward to competing for a CIF championship. I told them they have the ability and skills to get that far... They have the opportunity, and it’s up to them to take it,” Quintero said.
In the season’s first action, the Warriors scrimmaged Santa Barbara High School and lost 2-0. SBHS regularly plays deep into playoffs, and according to Quinteros, the Warriors outplayed the Dons for much of the match, but “failed to put the ball in the back of the net although we had numerous opportunities to do so.” The Warriors will spend the first part of the season searching for the right combination of players to generate goals.
The team’s backbone will be its defense, which returns multiple players, including senior leaders Genaro Hurtado and Eduardo “Lalo” Mejia. Both players have been roaming the back line since their sophomore seasons, when Hurtado was named to the All-CIF squad. They are joined by fellow senior Cristian Arambula. “The defense is the strongest point, I believe, we have as a team,” Quintero said. “It will be an essential part of our success this season.”
At the midfield level, senior Luca Rigonati returns following a successful junior season. The long-bodied Rigonati will look to win balls and control the flow of the game. Scoring opportunities might well begin at Rigonati’s feet before running forward through returning offensive midfielder Omar Vasquez. Vasquez played up front in his junior year, but Quintero said the senior may be shifted to midfield. Drawing the responsibility to finish the job at the net, sophomore Victor Saldaña will carry a big load. Saldaña joined varsity at the end of his freshman season, and Quintero complimented his knack for slipping shots past goalies.
The Warriors are seeking a third straight Tri-Valley League championship but must overcome stiff competition. Oaks Christian High School was the only squad to knock off the Warriors in a league contest last season, and according to Quintero, his players consider Fillmore High School to be a top TVL rival. The first home contest of the league season is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 11, at 5 p.m. versus Oak Park High School.
Beyond league play, the team has a healthy confidence, according to Quintero, and the ultimate goal for the season is “nothing short of a CIF championship,” he said.
Cate School Boys Soccer:
The bright blue on the Cate School boys soccer uniform has never had more luster. Rams soccer is fresh off of two straight CIF Division 7 championships, and even though the Rams have bumped up to Division 6, they are the favorite to win another title. The preseason CIF Division 6 poll has the Rams in the number-one slot, but a few major roster changes—most notably the loss of Ema Boateng, Gatorade National High School Player of the Year for 2011-2012—will pose new challenges for the 2012-2013 squad. Also, former assistant coach Peter Mack will take over the head coaching job from Dave Mochel.
Joining Boateng in graduation last year was four-year leading scorer Avery Schwartz, who represented the other half of the lethal offense that fueled Cate’s two titles. To compensate for the loss of firepower, senior Joshua Yaro, who was everywhere the ball was on defense last year, will move to midfield. Working in tandem with Yaro to generate goals will be returning sophomore Geoffrey Acheampong, who, like Boateng and Yaro, is from Ghana, Africa, and a product of Right to Dream soccer academy. Right to Dream trains talented youth soccer players in sport and scholastics to prepare them for placement in Western schools and the possibility of achieving their dreams.
Yaro is the team captain, and according to Mack, “Even though he’s soft spoken, (Yaro) is the heart and soul of the team.” Undoubtedly, Yaro will be the fastest player on every field he steps foot on this season. For the short term, Yaro is sidelined with an injury.
Despite the glaring loss of Boateng and Schwartz, Cate returns a healthy eight starters, including Yaro and Acheampong. The other returners are Tyler Douglas (junior), Leighton Brillo-Sonnino (junior), Matthew Firestone (junior), Patrick Thomas (sophomore), Daniel Rodriguez (sophomore), Shuta Kobayshi (junior) and Justin Kim (senior). Iman Fardghassemi (sophomore) started some last year, too. Kim and Kobayashi will also factor more greatly into the offensive. “We will still be a dangerous team in the attacking third,” Mack said.
Reflecting the ample experience and continued presence of elite players, Mack said the team’s goal is to improve on last year’s finish. Cate lost in the semifinals of the CIF Regional Tournament, and this year the team would like to not only retain its Condor League and CIF SS titles, but it also wants to compete in Regionals beyond the semifinals.
“This is a smart, gritty, confident team. And I don’t think they will allow anyone to out work them. After winning back-to-back CIF Southern Section Championships, they are well aware that they have a bulls-eye on their backs every time they take the field. But I think they are looking forward to the challenge,” Mack stated.
Following its 10-day holiday break, Cate will hit the ground running in a loaded preseason schedule against a string of teams from higher divisions. Cate opens with a match against San Marcos High School before traveling down the hill for its match with Carpinteria High School on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Then it’s on to Santa Ynez, Channel Islands, Oak Park and Pacifica high schools, all teams that the Rams will use as an early season challenge before catapulting into a playoff run.
“We have only had a handful of practices, but the strength of this team is that they’ll play like a team. There’s no question about that,” Mack stated.
Warrior girls soccer:
New coach Charles Bryant and captains Jasmine Montes De Oca and Erin Durflinger will lead Carpinteria High School girls soccer into battle against a tougher league and division this season. The Warriors move up to Tri-Valley League and into Division 3 against a whole different realm of opponents than last season’s Frontier League and Division 5 foes. TVL contains defending CIF SS champion Oaks Christian and other top 10-ranked team Santa Paula High School.
The Warriors will rely on some new and some old personnel when facing the new schedule. Durflinger, a junior, will likely play sweeper, and Montes De Oca, a senior, will make her leadership contributions either from the midfield or also on the defensive end. The back line will also contain returning senior Cristina Valdez.
Midfield will be an area of strength for the Warriors. Kelsie Bryant and Alexa Benitez return for their sophomore season and are known for their ability to get everyone involved. Charles said the Warriors fate might lie in whether the two midfielders assert themselves. Senior Kylie Augerot further fortifies the middle of the field as an outside midfielder. Receiving feeds from the midfielders on the offensive end of the field will likely be sophomore Monica Garcia who led the team in scoring in her freshman season.
Positions and personnel are still in flux due to the late start of the team. Owing to the CHS girls tennis team’s championship run, the team had barely practiced before taking the field against Rio Mesa. “We were rusty to say the least,” Charles said. “There is a lot to work on, and we have a lot of catching up to do but we will get there.”
He said the team will need to work on attacking and moving off the ball and he is hoping the team can develop a technical soundness to match the athleticism of TVL’s powerhouses.
Starting with a home rivalry match against Bishop Diego High School on Friday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m., the team has no easy matches during its difficult season. Charles said neither he nor the team will shy away from the challenge. “My goal is to make the playoffs and not just be competitive in each match but to pull off some upsets,” Charles said.