BOYS SOCCER PREVIEW: Returning as CIF champions, the Lancers strive for another trophy this season

Forward+junior+Issac+Morales+prepares+to+pass+the+ball+on+Wednesday%2C+Jan.+11%2C+during+an+away+game+against+Buena+Park+High+School+at+Buena+Park+High+School+stadium.

Sheila Neri

Forward junior Issac Morales prepares to pass the ball on Wednesday, Jan. 11, during an away game against Buena Park High School at Buena Park High School stadium.

Coaches: Mike Schade (head coach), Christopher Ahn (assistant coach), Jordan Brinkley (assistant coach), Jonathan Burtea (assistant coach), David Torres (assistant coach), Logan Williams (assistant coach)

Top Returning Players: Mathias Brown (12), Ethan Castro (10), Logan Connor (12), Angel Echeverria (12), Henry Garcia (11), Tyler Ip (12), Brennan McVicar (12), Daniel Park (12), David Rezko (12), Abel Sandoval (11), Samuel Takaki (12), Brayden Weimholt (12) 

Top Newcomers: Anthony Aguiar-Casillas (11), Ezra Arias (11), Edwin Benavidez (12), Nicolas Bona (12), Zachary Cardona (10), Nathan Cueva (9), Jaiden Duran (9), David Espana (10), Aidan Fichtelberg (11), Jaime Gonzalez (12), Victor Lang (12), Issac Morales (11), Tylo Pak (10), Vladimir Sotelo (10), Tyler Yu (12) 

Last season: The Lancers tied with the Fullerton Tribe for first place in the Freeway League with a 9-1 record and won the CIF-SS Division 3 championship, finishing the season off with an overall 19-4-4 record.

Outlook: Returning to a new season after achieving multiple accolades last year, the boys soccer team hopes to maintain first place in the Freeway League and strive for another CIF title.

“We are coming off winning the CIF championship, so it’s always difficult to get the players to understand that that process is not easy,” Schade said. “Players feel that [winning] is automatic and that it’s going to happen again, but that takes tremendous commitment by everybody in our program to have things like that happen.”

Last season, the team dropped to Division 3 from Division 2 for the first time in two years, but Schade said the other teams were still competitive. That didn’t discourage the Lancers and instead pushed them to work harder and return to their usual standings.

“We always have the expectation of playing the best possible soccer,” the head coach said. “That’s obviously going to include us having a good summer and then doing things right this fall while being well organized and committed going forward through our season.”

Starting its season, the team has already won 14 of its 17 matches as of Thursday, Jan. 19, resulting in an overall record of 14-0-3.

“We prepared by improving every day in training, dedicating time in and out of the soccer field and making sacrifices for the team,” co-captain centerback Park said.

Midfielder Fichtelberg, a newcomer on the varsity team, said he and his teammates have been working on their defense, fitness and domination in the 18-yard box over the past few months.

“Each game, we come in with the same energy because, for us, every game is a CIF final,” the junior said. “We don’t think about the other team; we focus on ourselves and go into the game like we’ve never heard of the other school before.”

Looking to extend their streak, the Lancers (14-0-3, 5-0) will face the Fullerton Tribe (13-2-2, 4-1) home on Friday, Jan. 20, at 3 p.m. for their sixth Freeway League game.