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Boys soccer: There's more than Hilltop Lancers in Mesa League in 2011 Phillip Brents | Thu, Jan 20 2011 01:58 PM

While the Hilltop Lancers (15-2) entered the week ranked No. 23 in ESPN’s Fab 50 national soccer rankings, second to Poway (16-0-1) among San Diego Section teams, a couple of long time rivals could be providing a challenge in coming weeks.

The Bonita Vista Barons and Chula Vista Spartans are both enjoying promising starts to the 2010-11 boys soccer season. The Barons captured the Premier Division at the Grossmont Holiday Tournament while the Spartans finished runner-up in the San Diego Holiday Classic over the recent winter break.

The teams met Tuesday at CVHS in the Mesa League opener for both teams, with the Spartans (8-4-2 overall) escaping with a hard-fought 1-0 victory — and a lot of sighs.

Chula Vista coach Ruben Oliveira said his team lost 11 players to graduation, including nine starters.

Yet the Spartans rode a first-half goal by Nathaniel Gomez and a lot of defense to record what many might consider an upset win.

“Eastlake and Hilltop didn’t lose as many players as we did — we’re almost in a rebuilding year,” Oliveira said. “Our league is going to be tough.”

BV coach Jason Murphy used that exact word — “tough” — to handicap his team’s chances of repeating as league champions.

“Our goals are the same each year — to win league, win CIF and win state,” Murphy said. “I stress to the team that winning league is the most important because it gets you into the playoffs.”

The Barons controlled the run of play in virtually all but a few moments of the second half of Tuesday’s game but came up with nothing to show for it in front of CV goalkeeper Edgar Ochoa.

“He saved our butts so many times in the game,” Oliveira said succinctly.

It certainly doesn’t get any better for the Spartans, who travel to Hilltop on Thursday (Jan. 20) for a key league match. Kick-off is 3:30 p.m.

Hilltop has racked up a stupefying 54-11 goal-differential in its opening 17 games.

The Lancers made yet another statement with their 3-1 league win at Otay Ranch on Tuesday.

David Zendejas, Carlos Arroyo and Joshua Diaz each scored goals.

The Lancers appear to have done nothing since the start of the new year to deserve anything less than the respect they’ve been given. Hilltop edged Sweetwater, 1-0, in a non-league game on Jan. 13 and clobbered Lincoln, 6-1, in another non-league encounter the following day.

David Zendejas had the game-winning goal in the win over the Red Devils while Adrian Zendejas was credited with eight saves in posting the shutout victory.  Diego Valverde and Jimmy Estrada each scored two goals in the win over the Hornets.

Joshua Diaz leads the Lancers in scoring with 10 goals and four assists. He is followed on the score sheet by Roberto Diaz with seven goals and seven assist, Valverde with 10 goals and three assists, Estrada with four goals and 14 assists, David Zendejas with five goals and three assists and Arroyo with four goals and five assists.

Adrian Zendejas owns a cool 0.77 goals-against average.

Game on!

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