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Boys soccer preview: Santa Ana's Arellano has learned some new tricks

STAFF WRITER

Anthony Arellano loves a challenge even if it means his free time becomes a precious luxury.

He calls soccer his favorite sport, but he has absolutely no interest in doing the same old drills day after day during offseason training with the Santa Ana soccer team.

Practice, he said, has to mean something. He needs a game at the end of the week to add a sense of urgency to his workouts. And that has made him a rather unique athlete in this age of specialization.

Arellano has become three-sport star at Santa Ana. He just recently rejoined the boys soccer team at practice after playing free safety for the football team. Once the soccer season is over, he will be at the track working on the 110 hurdles, 400 relay and long jump.

The diversity, he said, is what helped him become the Golden West League defensive player of the year after the Saints gave up just four goals in 10 league matches last winter.

“A lot transfers over to soccer from the other sports,” he said.

He said he uses the tricks that he learned in the Saints’ secondary to break down one-on-one tackles on the field, chattering his cleats the same way he does when he is streaking toward the quarterback on a blitz.

That kind of footwork, though, is not revolutionary among center backs.

“But I feel I have a better understanding of it because of football,” Arellano said.

And once he takes aim at the opponent coming toward his goal, he is there marking the threat in a manner of seconds.

“The sprinting has made me a more explosive runner,” he said. “I am able to move toward the ball with more force.”

But Arellano has always been fast and mobile, Santa Ana coach Joe Penaflor said. It is football that has made the biggest impact on the way Arellano plays soccer, he said.

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Arellano has gotten quicker with his feet because of all the football drills. And that was an area in which Arellano was weak, Penaflor said. Now, Arellano has the ability to handle the ball out of the back rather just booting it up the field.

“Football has helped him with that,” Penaflor said. “He controls the ball back there, and sometimes, he even made some runs up the field, and that opened up another dimension for us.”

For Arellano, defense has become his art, and he completed his masterpiece in the playoffs last winter when the Saints posted four consecutive shutouts on the way to the CIF-SS Division 2 final.

“The second year he was on varsity, he took over the defense as far as things I would be telling players to do he would recognize before I said it,” Penaflor said. “He adjusts our defense back there. Last year, I didn’t have to say too much on defense during a game because of him. He is a sharp kid.”

TOP TEAMS HEADING TO O.C.

The Lotto Western Sport Showcase will return to San Clemente in December, once again featuring eight of the most successful teams from California and Arizona.

The tournament begins Dec. 10 with the semifinals on Dec. 11. The championship is scheduled for Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.

Loyola and Servite, the Nos. 4 and 5 teams in Top Drawer Soccer’s preseason Fab 50, are in the field. And the bitter rivals, who have faced each other in a CIF-SS Division 1 semifinal the past three seasons, could potentially play for the Lotto tournament championship.

It appears that Servite has the tougher road to the final.

Servite opens with Brophy Prep of Phoenix on Dec. 10 with the winner moving on to face either Buchanan of Clovis, ranked No. 17 in Top Drawer Soccer’s preseason Fab 50, or Carlsbad, No. 14 in the Fab 50.

Loyola plays Hamilton of Chandler, Ariz in the first round. The winner gets either San Clemente or Watsonville in the semifinals, which will be played Dec. 11.

Contact the writer: ddottore@ocregister.com


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