Santa Ana's Anthony Arellano juggles the ball and poses for a portrait before a recent practice.

Boys soccer preview: O.C. top 10


OCVarsity’s Orange County top 10 heading into the 2015-16 season:

O.C. TOP 10

1. Servite: The Friars will field an experience team this season, featuring nine returning senior lettermen, including Garret Amador and Zane Rojas. Last season, Amador was an All-CIF selection after scoring 23 goals to help the Friars win the CIF-SS Division 1 championship. Rojas, who is entering his fourth varsity season, has helped the Friars have one of the best defenses in the area. The left back has been a part of the Friars defense which has posted 35 shutouts through the past two seasons. Servite coach Jon Spencer said he returns “a very strong group that should compete to defend the title we won a year ago.”

2. El Toro: The Chargers have the talent to win their fourth consecutive league title. Coach Shawn Watts said the Chargers don’t have one superstar, but they do have so much depth at every position that it’s hard for him to determine what the team’s strength is. The Chargers return junior goal keeper Mac Hutchins and senior defender Anthony Carney. Together, they helped the Chargers give up only four goals in league. Ezekiel Ochoa also returns after scoring seven goals as a junior forward last season.

3. Santa Ana: The Saints return Anthony Arellano, an All-CIF selection and the Golden West League player of the year. He helped the Saints post 14 shutouts, including three in the playoffs, including three in the postseason as the Saints advanced to the CIF-SS Division 2 championship. He also helped the Saints give up just four goals in 10 Golden West League matches.

4. Godinez: The Grizzlies return 11 players from last year’s team that won its third consecutive Orange Coast League title and outscored its opponents, 5-1, on its way to the CIF-SS Division 4 semifinals. Mauricio Martinez, a three-year varsity player, anchored the back line last season, helping the Grizzlies give up just nine goals in 21 games. Ricardo Diaz could also emerge as a key player. He had ACL surgery as a sophomore and struggled through an injury-plagued junior year.

5. San Juan Hills: The Stallions posted impressive results in summer league, winning six of their seven matches, including a 2-0 triumph over defending CIF-SS Division 1 champion Servite. Junior goal keeper Anthony Compean allowed only two goals during the summer. Look for Jovanni Almodovar to lead the Stallions attack. Coach Peter Carey said Almodovar has a “dynamite shot with both feet, and is very dangerous on the ball ... a D1 level player.”

6. Santa Margarita: The Eagles have one of the most exciting forwards in sophomore Michael Falino, who was responsible for one of the biggest goals of the season last winter. He scored in second-half stoppage time, delivering the winner in a 1-0 victory over Huntington Beach in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs. It was his eighth goal of the season. His first goal came in his varsity debut when his 20-yard shot deflected in off the far post. That too proved to be the decisive score in a 3-0 victory over Yorba Linda.

7. San Clemente: The Tritons will be a bit on the young side this season, returning just four seniors. But Coach Mike Pronier said he expects his team to show improvement from last year’s squad which failed to win the South Coast League championship or the first time in four seasons. Fernando Vasquez, a junior midfielder/forward, is the Tritons’ best skill player. Last season, he finished with seven points off five assists and one goal. Cameron Dickie, Pronier said, gained valuable experience last season and should be able to contol the box much better. Last winter, he played 1,140 minutes for the Tritons, giving up just nine goals for a 0.6 goals against average.

8. Brea Olinda: The Wildcats won the Sunny Hills Summer League championship in July after edging Valencia, 1-0, in the championship match. It was the first time in the 13 years that Stephen Teal has been coaching the Wildcats that one of his teams finished first in the month-long tournament. Danny Abrego, an all-league selection last season who has committed to Santa Clara, was chosen the summer league MVP after delivering the decisive goal in the Wildcats’ victory against Cypress in the semifinals.

9. Sunny Hills: Much of the Lancers’ success over the years is rooted in their backline. The Lancers gave up just three postseason goals on their way to the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinal, and two key pieces of the defense will return to the lineup – Miguel Tapia and Alex Montalvo. Tapia is a four-year varsity player that was an All-Freeway League first-team selection last year. Montalvo was also an all-league selection who started at outside back in every game last season. Daniel Martinez will play behind those two in goal, and last year he posted eight shutouts.

10. Sonora: Scoring goals on the Raiders this season is going to be quite a challenge as sophomore Blake Tourville returns to the back line. Last season, he was selected the Freeway League defensive player of the year as a freshman. The Raiders are probably going to need to record more than a few shutouts too, especially early in the season because their one weakness will come up top at forward. “But if the offense can find some consistency and leadership, we are a contender for the league title for sure,” Sonora coach Cory Witt said.

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