Fri, Jan 04 2013 01:22 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Olympian High School boys soccer team is off to a 9-4 start after recording a runner-up finish in the finals of the Grossmont tournament, held Dec. 24 at Santana High School.
The Eagles dropped a hotly contested 3-2 match in the championship game to a Ramona team off to an 11-1-1 start.
“The game could have gone either way and we could have easily won had we capitalized on our opportunities, but it was not to be,” OHS coach Sergio Villalva said.
Mesa League play kicks off Jan. 15 when the Eagles visit Otay Ranch for a 3 p.m. match.
Olympian looks to be a factor in this year’s league championship race.
“We have some great student-athletes on our team,” Villalva said.
The Eagles are led in scoring by junior Branden Sanchez with 18 goals and eight assists. Sanchez, who ranks among the goal-scoring leaders in the San Diego Section, has demonstrated his ability to score in bunches with three hat tricks so far this season.
Sanchez had four goals in a 7-0 win against Mt. Miguel on Dec. 17, three goals in a 5-0 victory against Madison on Nov. 26 and three goals in a 3-0 win over El Cajon Valley on Dec. 22.
During bracket play in the Grossmont tournament, Sanchez scored two goals against Brawley and Madison and three against El Cajon Valley.
Despite playing with a back injury and shadowed by a Canyon Crest Academy defender in the Eagles’ semifinal game, Sanchez still managed to score one goal.
Olympian won 2-1.
Villalva noted that in the championship game against Ramona, Sanchez again came through for his teammates.
“Branden again found a way to score a goal even with his back in pain and heavily bandaged up,” the OHS coach noted.
Sanchez has scored at least one goal in all but two of the Eagles’ 13 games.
“Although Branden is mostly double- or tripled-teamed, he has found a way to give his teammates eight assists,” Villalva said.
That goes both ways.
“With all these goals, it’s easy to say Branden has had a great support system that gets him the ball where he needs to get it as well as scoring goals when Branden is (guarded) by defenders,” Villalva said.
Midfielders doing the dirty work to get the ball to Sanchez include Esteban De La Torre (seven goals, four assists), Hugo Lara (four goals, four assists), Mark Davalos (four goals, seven assists), Alex Aviles (two goals, three assists) and Alexis Sandoval (two goals, two assists).
“They not only provide the creative pattern of play that enables Branden to get where he needs to be to finish the work but can also finish when he can’t,” the OHS coach said.
While the Eagles’ offense is averaging three goals per game, the team’s defense is holding opponents to less than one goal per game.
The OHS defense already boasts eight shutouts so far. The Eagles’ back-line is anchored by seniors Francisco Salinas, Andrew Chavez and Marcos Henry, sophomore Andres Lara and freshman standout Rodrigo Mesa.
Villalva noted that with recent injuries to Chavez and Henry, Salinas was able to drop back from the midfield and step into the defensive voids created by the injuries.
The dual play of goalkeepers Faisal Imani and Steven Williams has kept Olympian, according to Villalva, “in close games when it counted.”
As the Eagles enter the 2013 portion of the 2012-13 season, Villalva said his team will be out to improve on the team’s 12-10-1 overall record and 6-3-1 finish in league play from 2011-12.
“We’re looking forward to league play this year,” Villalva said. “We didn’t win our ninth game last season until Feb. 8, so things are looking bright for us this year.”
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