ORANGE COUNTY BREAKDOWN
San Clemente – The Tritons are having a year that might be better than when they made a perfect run through the playoffs a couple of years ago, winning both the CIF-SS Divison 1 and So Cal Regional titles. They have scored a school record 78 goals this season and shutout a record 18 teams. They are led by Gage Zerboni, who leads the county with 25 goals and has also tied a school record this season with 17 assists. Look for the Tritons to make it to the final.
El Toro – The Chargers and Carlsbad are the only two teams to knock off San Clemente this season, beating the Tritons, 2-1, in a nonleague game in January. James Suri scored the game winner of the Chargers that day. His nickname is Rooney, and when you see him you know why. He’s a husky forward that is built to score goals. But his size doesn’t slow him down. He’s always running around the field at 100 mph. El Toro has a great chance to meet the Tritons once again in the title game
Santa Margarita – They won the Trinity League championship for the first time since 2008, which was Curt Bauer’s last year coaching the team. Wade Fraser leads the team now, and he has done a masterful job keeping the team together under some trying circumstances. Recently, three players were kicked off the team for hazing, yet the Eagles went undefeated after that.
Dana Hills – The Dolphins are the surprise team of the season and were the best of the rest in the Sea View League which was ruled by El Toro this season. The Dolphins closed the season with three wins and two ties, outscoring their opponents 14-7 during that span. That also included a 3-3 tie with El Toro, which shows you the quality of the Dolphins. This team should make it to the quarterfinals.
Fountain Valley – Clinched a spot in the playoffs with a victory against rival Edison on the last day of the season. A loss would have likely kept them out. For finishing second in the Sunset League, the Barons get rewarded with possibly the longest trip in the first round. They get to face Santa Barbara, always a tough team. The Barons might have a short stay in the playoffs this time around.
Edison – They were second until Fountain Valley beat them on the final day of the season and are kind of backpedaling as they approach the playoffs. After beating Marina, Fountain Valley, Newport Harbor and Huntington Beach, the closed the season with two losses and a tie.
JSerra – The Lions have one of the best midfields in the county led by Santa Ana-transfer Ivan Canales and UCI-bound Andres Mendoza. They also feature one of the top goal scorers in the county in Jonathan Fabulich. The junior forward has scored 17 goals.
Tesoro – This could be a tough postseason for the Titans. The season that San Clemente ran the table in the playoffs, the Titans beat the Tritons for the South Coast League championship. This season, the Titans only won two league games and got shutout in five of its eight legaue games.
Servite – After changing coaches in the spring and losing county player of the year Conner Bevans to graduation, I didn’t expect the Friars to be here, but Coach Jon Spencer has put together a well-organized defense and finished third in the Trinity League after closing out the season with Orange Lutheran, St. John Bosco and Mater Dei
Los Alamitos – Defense is definitely the strength of the Sunset League champions, but they also have a proven goal scorer in Ozvaldo Yanez, who has scored 10 goals.
Capistrno Valley – The Cougars made it to the Division 2 championship matches the last two seasons, but that likely won’t be duplicated this season, not with the Tritons poised to make another perfect run through the playoffs. The Cougars do, however, have one of the best keepers in the league in Matt Bermudez. The senior who almost didn’t end up playing because of some injuries has made some of the best saves that I have seen this season, and kept the Cougars in their game with El Toro.
Newport Harbor – This is another team that has turned in some surprising results this season, beating Fountain Valley twice. Tamplin True leads the Sailors with 13 goals.
Laguna Hills – Finished third in the Sea View League this season after losing four of its first six league games. They do feature a rare-type of player – a goal keeper who can score goals. Ricky Brown, who has been playng in goal during the Sea View League, has scored nine goals for the Hawks this season
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Gage Zerboni, Sr., F, San Clemente
Oscar Vasquez, Sr., MF, San Clemente
Blayne Martinez, So. F, San Clemente
Colin McDermott, Sr., D
James Suri, Sr. F, El Toro
Michael Bryant, Sr. F, El Toro
Nicolo D’Amato, Jr., MF, El Toro
Roger Howard, Sr., D, El Toro
Abraham Becerra, Sr., D, El Toro
Joseph Soliman, Sr., F, Fountain Valley
Kenji Louer, Sr., D, Fountain Valley
Matt Bermudez, Sr., GK, Capistrano Valley
Jonathan Fabulich, Jr., F, JSerra
Ivan Canales, So., MF, JSerra
Andres Mendoza, Sr., MF, JSerra
Michael Cronk, Sr., D, JSerra
Sean Goode, Sr., F, Santa Margarita
Brenden Hickey, Sr., D, Santa Margarita
Chandler Kirby, Jr., GK, Santa Margarita
Mike Wolitski, Sr., MF, Servite
Kevin Engesser, Sr., MF, Servite
Colton Goodness, Jr., MF, Servite
Connor Gordan, Sr., MF/F, Edison
Ozvaldo Yanez Sr., F, Los Alamitos
Daniel Weis, Sr., D, Los Alamitos
Cory Yukihiro, Sr., D, Los Alamitos
Ricky Brown, Sr., F/GK, Laguna Hills
Derek Perez, Sr., F, Laguna Hills
Connor Dudas, Sr., D, Tesoro
Keaton Kaichi, Sr., F, Tesoro
Ian Rumbaugh, Sr., F, Tesoro
Derek Saunier, Sr., D, Tesoro
Izzy Reyes, Sr., MF, Dana Hills
Paul Romero, So., F, Dana Hills
Tamplin True, Sr., MF, Newport Harbor