Boys soccer: O.C. players to watch in the playoffs
Here is our list of Orange County's top players to watch in the CIF-SS boys soccer playoffs.
Bryan Ibarra, Godinez: The quarterback from the football team has become one of the top forwards in the Southern Section this season because of is speed and athleticism. He has scored 24 goals so far for the Grizzlies which ranks second in the county
Blake Munger, Corona del Mar: He is one of the most skilled players that I have seen this season. His cross to George Wells against Woodbridge was spectacular. As he tiptoed on the end line, Munger fought off three defenders before he fired the ball to Wells, who turned the pass into a goal. Even though Munger has struggled with injuries during his career at CdM, he is having a breakout season, scoring 10 goals for the Sea Kings
Brian Peek, Saddleback Valley Christian: He is the county’s goal scoring leader with 26. He has had nine multiple goal games this season, scoring four goals in one game and three goals in five others.
Zane Rojas, Servite: He is the foundation of the Friars’ formidable defense which only allowed five goals in 10 league games. But he is not just glued to the back line. During the St. John Bosco game on Feb. 3, he was all over the place, and his presence helped the Friars tie the Braves, 1-1, a result which was crucial in the Friars’ run to the Trinity League championship. His long throw to James Moore resulted in Servite’s only goal against Bosco.
Garrett Amador, Servite: He recorded his second hat trick of the season in a 4-1 victory against JSerra in the season finale to move into a third-place tie with Chris Pontius, a 2005 grad and member of Philadelphia’s MLS team, on the school’s all-time scoring list with 42. He leads the team with 14 goals.
Cole Smith, El Dorado: Whether he is playing holding mid or forward, he stands out as the Golden Hawks’ best player. He has scored 10 goal during North Hills League play and 17 overall. He knocked in the game winner in a 3-0 victory against Brea Olinda which clinched the North Hills League championship.
Eduardo Chavez, Anaheim: He is the leading goal scorer on one of the best teams in the Southern Section, placing third on the county leaderboard with 19 goals.
Mason Paine, Valencia: The senior center back is the strength of the Tigers’ defense this season, which only gave up two goals in Empire League play and has posted 16 shutouts this season.
Ryan Souza, Aliso Niguel: The defender looks like he should be playing linebacker for the Wolverines, so it’s not a huge surprise that one of his long throws make it look as if he is launching a golf ball through the air. The soccer ball travels that far. Long throws are the Wolverines’ most dangerous play and it is because of Souza. But he’s good for more than just that, adding leadership to the Wolverines’ defense which shutout four of its last five opponents.
Kevan Rehmani, Yorba Linda: He has the ability to singlehandedly keep the Mustangs in a game with his spectacular diving saves. He turned in five of them in a 1-1 tie with Brea Olinda, which was the single best performance by a keeper that I have seen this season.