BOYS SOCCER MID-SEASON REPORT: The undefeated Lancers look to bring back success in the Freeway League

Boys+soccer+center+back+senior+Anthony+Nor%C3%ADa+dribbles+the+ball+down+field+ready+to+pass+to+his+teammate+during+a+Jan.+12+home+game+against+Troy.+The+Lancers+defeated+the+Warriors+1-0.+

Grace Johnson

Boys soccer center back senior Anthony Noría dribbles the ball down field ready to pass to his teammate during a Jan. 12 home game against Troy. The Lancers defeated the Warriors 1-0.

Kristima Aryal

Coaches: Mike Schade (head coach), Jordan Brinkey (assistant coach), Jonathan Ortia (assistant coach), David Torres (assistant coach)


Top Returning Players: Justin Coen (12), Logan Connor (11), Dylan Dohan (12), Angel Echeverria (11), Michael Franco (12), Kai Noah Gomez (12), Tyler Ip (11), Jerry Mejia (12), Anthony Noria (12), Sebastian Ospina (12), Tobias Pak (12), Daniel Park (11), Victor Quiroz (12), David Rezko (11), Samuel Takaki (11)   

Top Newcomers: Christopher Ahn (12), Arian Akram (12), Erik Arcos (12), Alexy Benitez (12), Pedro Delvel (12), Maxwell Fales (11), Henry Garcia (10), Christian Lato (12), Izaac Lira (12), Christopher Martinez (12), Brennan McVicar (11), Emiliano Perez-Martinez (12), Brent Shelton (12), Ryan Sigala (12), Brayden Weimholt (11), Logan Williams (12)  

Last Season: After CIF condensed the 2020-2021 sports into “fall” and “spring” groups, the soccer program was pushed to the spring season, playing in March instead of December. Lancers finished fifth in the Freeway League with a 3-6-1 record, unable to qualify for CIF-SS playoffs. 

Outlook: For the first time in two years, the Sunny Hills boys soccer team remains undefeated in the Freeway League as of Jan. 26 and hopes to continue its seven-game winning streak. 

The team earned its most recent victory Wednesday, Jan. 26, beating Buena Park High School (3-7-5 overall record, 0-7 Freeway League record), 3-1. 

“I am proud of how far me and my team have come this season,” co-captain forward junior David Rezko said. “We have a strong connection with each other since most of us have been playing together for the last couple of years, … and I would not be surprised if we accomplish a lot more.”

Last season, the team saw a shift in player consistency as the pandemic changed game and training schedules. As CIF officials made the decision to suspend CIF Bylaws 600-605, which prevents student-athletes from simultaneously competing in high school and “outside teams,” many members on the team juggled various injuries and practice times. 

“We did not do a good job as a program, primarily the coaching staff, making the adjustments for that COVID-19 season,” Schade said. “Players could play both high school and club, so that really hindered us.We had to shorten practices and had a lot of injuries, so it really hurt us last season.”

But coming into the 2021-2022 season, the coaching staff returned to its year-round training camp schedule, beginning with the spring, summer and fall workouts. 

“Camp is getting us ready for our winter season,” Schade said. “The preparation is always focused on us being fit enough to compete at the highest level, and we start rehearsing to get ready to play at the highest level.”

With six league games already under its belt, the head coach said the team’s greatest strength is its defense. However, its offensive ability has also been unmatched throughout the season. 

“Our ability to defend, especially within the 18-yard box, is definitely a strength,” Schade said. “We can move the ball from player to player better than most teams, which gives us an opportunity to try and create some goal scoring chances.”

As of Jan. 26, no games for the boys soccer team have been postponed because of COVID-19-related issues, but goalie Williams said the pandemic still has a lingering affect on his teammates. 

“[COVID-19] has definitely impacted our team this season with some key players being out at times, [but] as a team we always try to focus on what we can control and try our best to stay healthy,” he said. “Our strength is the intensity we set from the beginning of the game, and that’s what we focus on.”

Nevertheless, the Lancers remain focused on their goal — to bring home a Freeway League championship and go deep into the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs. 

“The aim is always high —  after league is over we won’t stop and as a team, we think we have a legit chance to make a CIF run,” center forward junior Mathias Brown said. “Coach Schade always holds us to a championship standard, and we train that way – to win.”

Planning to continue their streak, the Lancers (11-2-4, 7-0) will next take on the Warriors (7-5-3, 3-2-1) Friday, Jan. 28, at 3 p.m. at Troy.