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Hilltop boys soccer team holds down Top 20 national ranking Phillip Brents | Fri, Feb 04 2011 10:16 PM

A scoreless tie Jan. 27 at Eastlake wasn’t exactly what the Hilltop High School boys soccer team might have ordered but it did send a wake-up call through the ranks of the nationally-ranked Lancers, according to head coach John Salts.

“We pretty much dominated the whole game but we couldn’t find the net,” said Salts, whose team took 21 shots.

“We’re fighting that mental stage when we’re three-quarters of the way through the season and expect to show up and win because of our national ranking.”

Hilltop entered the Eastlake match ranked 19th in the nation and dropped to No. 20 entering this week. The Lancers remain one of five San Diego Section teams ranked in ESPN’s Fab 50 national poll.

Poway moved up to No. 2 nationally with its 20-0-1 record (the lone tie coming against Eastlake), while Rancho Bernardo (11-2-1) lies in wait behind Hilltop at No. 21, followed by Westview (11-2-4) at No. 35 and San Pasqual (13-2-2) at No. 36.

Salts said he sees Westview, Orange Glen and Valhalla among the teams likely to earn top seeds along with the Lancers in the upcoming San Diego Section Division II playoffs. Bonita Vista could also be there, he said.

“We had a long talk after the Eastlake game and I think we have things worked out now,” Salts said. “Our goal is to win the league banner and peak at the right time in CIF. We have the talent and our kids believe in themselves . That’s the best thing.”

Hilltop (4-0-1 in league play, 18-2-1 overall) closed out the first round of Mesa League play with a 2-1 victory against Mater Dei Catholic on Tuesday. Joshua Diaz scored both goals while Adrian Zendejas recorded seven saves.

The Lancers last won a section title in 1993. Hilltop also won CIF championships in 1984 and 1985.

The week that was
Hilltop's Salts sure hit the nail on the head when he said teams at the three-quarter mark of the season run into a mental barrier. The Lancers followed up Tuesday's one-goal victory over Mater Dei with a 1-1 draw against visiting Otay Ranch -- a team that Hilltop defeated 3-1 in the teams' league opener on Jan. 18.

While the tie does not harm the Lancers' championship hopes -- Hilltop (4-0-2 in league, 18-2-2 overall) remains two points ahead of second place Bonita Vista -- it has brought the teams'  chief challeners for the league title directly within striking distance. Hilltop meets Chula Vista and Bonita Vista both on the road this coming week, and it's safe to say the location of where the 2011 league banner will eventually hang likely mayl be decided by the outcome of those two big match-ups on the pitch.

A tie at this point of the season might be as good as a win for the Lancers depending on the match-up, though at least one victory cedrtainly seems imperative in the two road games next week.

And Hilltop isn't the only team wearing green that might be a little concerned aas the post-season nears. Poway, drum roll, played to a scoreless tie at Mt. Carmel this week. Earlier this season, the Titans blasted the Sundevils 7-0.

It's just that time of the season. Otay Ranch is 1-4-1 in league, 3-8-2 overall.

Wake-up calls appear to have been delivered.

Bonita Vista (4-2 in league, 13-5-1 overall) made up significant ground in the league standings -- two standings points -- be defeating visiting Chula Vista 4-1. The win boosted the Barons into sole possesion of second place. The Spartans (10-6-3 overall) dropped to third place with a 3-2-1 league record -- four standings points behind Hilltop.

Two losses by the Lancers next week could thus produce a radical re-ordering at the top of the league standings.

Eastlake (1-3-2 in league, 4-6-4 overall) picked up its first league win this season by defeating Mater Dei Catholic 2-1.

It will indeed be interesting to see how the remainder of the second round of league play plays out.

Hilltop owns 13 shutouts this season -- more of the same can only be beneficial to the team's championship aspirations.

South Bay League
Defending San Diego Section Division III champion Castle Park clearly proved itself to be the best team in the first round of league play with a spotless 6-0 record. But three games into the second round, the Trojans are no longer in first place. The Southwest Raiders played rude visitors to kick off the second half of league play on Jan. 27 by handing host Castle Park a stinging 5-2 defeat.

The Raiders (13-4-1 overall) finished this week alone atop the league standings with an 8-1 record. The Trojans (15-2-1 overall) sit in second place at 7-1. The Montgomery Aztecs (8-9-3 overall) have showed signs lately of making a second-half run, moving into third place with a 5-3 league record.

But it looks like a battle between Southwest and Castle Park for the rights to this year's league championship. Should both teams remain victorious in their remaining league games, they would finish as co-champions. But if one should stumble against an upcoming opponent, just one of those two South Bay League juggernauts may finish with the banner.

Jaune Verdin scored three goals in Southwest's 5-2 win over CP while teamamte Francisco Ramirez had two goals. Jose Figueroa and Giovanny Mendoza scored single goals for the Trojans.

Castle Park followed up that loss with a 3-0 victory against Olympian on Feb. 1. Miguel Lopez, Alfredo Rodriguez and Alejandro Sanchez each scored single goals. Rodriguez leads the Trojans in scoring this season with 14 goals and two assists.

Southwest defeated Montgomery, 3-1, on Feb. 1. Juan Huizar scored two goals and Ramirez scored once for the Raiders.

Southwest took a one-game lead in the win column by defeating San Ysidro, 4-0, on Thursday. Eric Rodriguez had two goals to spearhead the Raider scoring attack while Victor Andrade and Ramirez each scored single goals. Ramirez also was credited with two assists. Ramirez leads the team in scoring with nien goals and eight assists. Verdin has scored seven goals and added nine assists while Rodrioguez has scored nine goals and three assists and Andrade has eight goals and four assists.

The Raiders have seven shutouts to their credit this season.  

Mesa League
Boys Standings

(Through Feb. 3)

Hilltop 4-0-2, 18-2-2    
Bonita Vista 4-2-0, 13-5-1
Chula Vista 3-2-1, 10-6-3
Eastlake 1-3-2, 4-6-4
Mater Dei Catholic 1-3-2, 3-4-2
Otay Ranch 1-4-1, 3-8-2

Thursday, Feb. 3
Bonita Vista 4, Chula Vista 1
Eastlake 2, Mater Dei Catholic 1
Hilltop 1, Otay Ranch 1

Tuesday, Feb. 1
Hilltop 2, Mater Dei Catholic 1
Chula Vista 6, Otay Ranch 0
Bonita Vista 2, Eastlake 0

Thursday, Jan. 27
Hilltop 0, Eastlake 0
Bonita Vista 3, Otay Ranch 1
Chula Vista 0, Mater Dei Catholic 0

Tuesday, Jan. 25

Hilltop 2, Bonita Vista 0
Chula Vista 1, Eastlake 0
Mater Dei Catholic 3, Otay Ranch 1

Thursday, Jan. 20

Otay Ranch 4, Eastlake 2
Bonita Vista 3, Mater Dei Catholic 0
Hilltop 1, Chula Vista 0 

South Bay League
Boys Standings

(Through Feb. 3)

Southwest 8-1-0, 13-4-1
Castle Park 7-1-0, 15-2-1
Montgomery 5-3-0, 8-9-3
Olympian 4-4-1, 4-7-1
Sweetwater 2-5-2, 7-10-4
Mar Vista 2-7-0, 4-10-2
San Ysidro 0-7-1, 3-11-2

Thursday, Feb. 3
Southwest 4, San Ysidro 0
Montgomery 1, Mar Vista
Olympian 0, Sweetwater 0

Tuesday, Feb. 1
Castle Park 3, Olympian 0
Southwest 3, Montgomery 1
Sweetwater 1, Mar Vista 0

Thrursday, Jan. 27
Southwest 5, Castle Park 2
Sweetwater 2, San Ysidro 2
Olympian 3, Mar Vista 2

Tuesday, Jan. 25
Castle Park 2, Sweetwater 1
Montgomery 2, Olympian 1
mar Vista 3, San Ysidro 2

Thursday, Jan. 20

Castle Park 2, Mar Vista 1
Southwest 3, Sweetwater 1
Montgomery 2, San Ysidro 0

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