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Hilltop, Chula Vista boys soccer teams to explore new horizons in CIF Open Division Phillip Brents | Fri, Jan 31 2014 02:23 PM

Hilltop and Chula Vista will represent Metro Conference boys soccer teams in the San Diego Section’s new Open Division this season. It’s an honor and a daunting task in the same breath.

The new division is reserved for the section’s elite teams, as defined by results over the past few seasons.

Joining the Lancers and Spartans in the eight-team division are Westview, Carlsbad, Poway, San Pasqual, Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon. All eight teams qualify for the playoffs.

At the midpoint of the season, contenders for the inaugural Open Division title appear to be Westview (14-1-1), Carlsbad (12-2-2) and Poway (9-1-7), the teams with the top winning percentages thus far.

San Pasqual is 8-3-5, followed by Torrey Pines (8-5-4), Chula Vista (7-5-1), Hilltop (7-8-1) and LCC (2-6-5).

Westview is ranked first among section teams, followed by No. 2 Carlsbad, No. 4 San Pasqual, No. 5 Torrey Pines and No. 7 Poway.

Hilltop defeated visiting Montgomery, 1-0, last Friday to pull nearer the .500 mark while Chula Vista scored major prestige points after defeating then seventh-ranked Southwest, 5-0, last Friday. However, the big Spartan win was tempered somewhat by Monday’s 2-1 non-league loss at University City.

Hilltop dropped a 4-0 match to visiting Southwest on Wednesday in a non-league contest.

Southwest (10-2-3) will compete in the upcoming Division I playoffs. The Raiders entered the week ranked 10th among section teams – one tick behind ninth-ranked Castle Park (11-3-1).

New horizons
The Lancers kick off Metro-Pacific League play with a match this coming Wednesday at Sweetwater while the Spartans travel to Castle Park.

Hilltop made back-to-back appearances in the section championship game in 2011 and 2012, dropping a tiebreaker shootout to Bonita Vista to cap the 2010-11 season and suffering a disappointing 2-1 setback to La Costa Canyon the following season.
“We have experienced tremendous talent over the years and have been blessed with an incredible new crop of players,” Hilltop coach John Salts said in reference to this year’s team. “We are running freshman, junior varsity and varsity levels this season.

“Our strong leading returner group consists of juniors Sergio ‘ Rigo’ Santana, Victor Lopez, Abner Alatorre and Luis Alfaro, and seniors Russ Lopez and Josue Macias.”

The Lancers’ three new impact players include freshman Mathias Cien Mayer and junior Jesus Ponce.

Salts noted his team started the season strong with a 4-0 mark and advanced to the semifinals of both the Coronado and Grossmont tournaments.

Santana made an impression with six goals in his first seven games.

“Castle Park right now, I think, is the team to beat,” Salts explained about the upcoming league championship race. “Chula Vista started out kind of slow but has started to play well of late, and we’ve kind of cooled off somewhat. I think Sweetwater will be a torn in everyone’s side, so it should be interesting to see how it all turns out.”

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