Fri, Feb 10 2012 05:02 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
If there is one person who could accurately gauge the level of play between the Mesa League and South Bay League in boys soccer, it would likely be Chula Vista Spartans coach Ruben Oliveira.
The Spartans were in the thick of last year’s Mesa League championship race and, in their first year after the move to the South Bay League, once again find themselves as a championship contender.
“There is pretty good balance between the leagues, at least this year,” Oliveira said.
The Spartans entered the week tied for first place in the South Bay League standings with the defending league champion Southwest Raiders, both with 7-2-0 league records.
Chula Vista entered Wednesday’s game against visiting Montgomery sporting a 14-6-1 overall record. The Spartans will close out regular season play with games Friday at Sweetwater (5-2-2 in league, 9-6-2 overall) and next Tuesday against the visiting Raiders.
Southwest (11-3-2 overall) hosts San Ysidro (4-3-1, 6-4-2) on Friday and finishes up regular season play with a match at Mar Vista (0-8, 0-16) next Thursday.
The San Diego Section playoffs kick off Feb. 22.
Oliveira’s crew entered Wednesday’s game against the Aztecs (1-8 in league, 4-12-4 overall) smarting from a 3-2 loss the previous Friday at Castle Park. Ironically, both the Spartans’ league losses have come against the Trojans (4-3-1, 6-11-1).
“It’s gone pretty well (the move to the South Bay League) but I wish we could have won every game,” Oliveira said. “It’s going to be tough. Playing at Sweetwater is not easy because of their field — it’s horrible. And Southwest is a very good team. We’re basically in a situation where we have to win out in every game to win the league title.”
Actually, should the Spartans and Raiders tie for the league lead, Oliveira said Chula Vista would own the tie-breaker advantage based on his team’s 3-2 victory at Southwest on Jan. 20.
The Raiders blasted Castle Park, 6-0, on Monday behind three goals from Francisco Ramirez and single tallies by Brandon Mejia, Jose Duran and Jesse Bojorquez. Goalkeeper Miguel Serrano was credited with five saves in recording the shutout victory.
That game came in contrast to last Friday’s Chula Vista-Castle Park match-up.
The Trojans got single goals from Joshua Damian, Alejandro Rodriguez and Leonardo Torres.
The game-winner came on a penalty kick in injury time.
“We played well and had a lot of chances that we couldn’t finish,” Oliveira said. “The ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
Field conditions at South Bay League schools leave something to be desired, the CVHS coach said. The only schools with Turf fields are Montgomery and San Ysidro. The remaining natural grass fields are in various conditions, ranging from decent to poor, with an accent on the latter.
The Spartans have generated a great deal of success with a relatively young team. Oliveira’s varsity side features four freshmen and three sophomores.
“We’re a team for the future but we’re also a team for now,” the CVHS coach said.
Standouts continue to be forwards Felipe Toscano and Julio Arreola, both converted midfielders.
In a 2-0 victory against visiting San Ysidro on Feb. 1, Isai Aguila and Omar Rebollo each scored goals.
As for the upcoming Division I playoffs, Oliveira said he sees his team somewhere in the middle of the mix. He rates San Pasqual, Poway and Torrey Pines as the top three teams in the division. From there, he said, the field is more balanced.
“If we win our league, we’re automatically in and get a home game in the playoffs,” Oliveira said.
But the ball can take tricky bounces sometimes.
© 2009 The Star-News