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Rebuilding Hilltop boys soccer team seeks to regain its magic touch Phillip Brents | Fri, Feb 08 2013 02:38 PM

After graduating 14 players from last year's San Diego Section Division II finalist team, one might have expected the Hilltop Lancers to be in a rebuilding stage this season — and they are, according to head coach John Salts. 

With a team that is heavily laden with underclassmen, Salts readily admitted the 2012-13 Hilltop side struggled to find that all-important team chemistry through the early part of a challenging non-league and tournament schedule.

Despite the large turnover in playing talent, Salts elected to retain the Lancers’ strong strength of schedule with games against such teams as Westview, Carlsbad, St. Augustine and Coronado.

“The good news is that we played each of these teams very close, either tying or losing by one goal,” Salts said. “That says a lot for our young team.

“That tough schedule did not produce a lot of early season wins, but it seems to be paying off now for us.”
When the opening round of Mesa League play ended on Jan. 29, Hilltop (6-7-3 overall) found itself alone at the top of the league standings with a 4-1 record.

“We are starting to find our niche and the boys are coming together into one system,” Salts explained. “It is nice to see the players start to see the system and thus start to see the fruits of their hard work.”

However, Salts admitted it’s too early to call a champion in the Mesa League. Otay Ranch (9-5-2 overall) finished the opening half of league play with a 3-1-1 record, followed by Olympian at 3-2, Mater Dei Catholic at 2-2-1, Eastlake at 1-3-1 and Bonita Vista at 0-4-1.

The Mustangs handed the Lancers their only loss — 4-0 — in the opening round.

“This is a very strong league with very good teams,” Salts said. “We have been fortunate thus far, but in no way, is our league decided after the first half; there is a lot of soccer left to be played.”

Top returners include senior goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas, a CIF Second Team Division II selection, as well as seniors Rigoberto Maciel, Steven Jaramillo, Vincent Acevedo, Fernando Fiero and Miguel Jimenez.

Top newcomers include sophomores Victor Lopez, Rigo Santana, Joseph King and Carlos Calderon, and juniors Russ Lopez and Josue Macias.

Maciel leads the team in scoring.

“We have a solid defense and an emerging offense that is primed to break out just in time for the final stretch of league play,” Salts said.

Zendejas, who stands 6-4, blocked a penalty kick in Tuesday’s scoreless draw against visiting Otay Ranch.

The Hilltop coach also noted there is more to the high school experience than winning championship banners. The Lancers took part in their annual Help Those in Need event this past holiday season in which team members and their families traveled to San Diego’s East Village to hand out clothes, blankets, food and water to those living on the streets.

“The boys also brought stuffed animals to children so they would have gifts for the holidays,” Salts said.

Corner kicks
•Olympian defeated Bonita Vista, 6-1, on Tuesday to move into a challenger role for this year’s Mesa League championship. Andres Lara had three goals while teammate Branden Sanchez scored twice for the Eagles (4-3 in league, 13-7 overall).

•K.C. Morton scored two goals and Blyss McCann scored another in Eastlake’s 3-0 Mesa League win at Mater Dei Catholic on Tuesday. The Titans remained in first place at 6-0-1, 11-1-5 overall.


Metro Conference Soccer Standings

Mesa League Boys Standings

Hilltop Lancers 5-1-2, 17 points
Otay Ranch Mustangs 5-1-2, 17 points
Mater Dei Catholic 4-2-2, 14 points
Olympian Eagles 4-4-0, 12 points
Eastlake Titans 2-5-1, 7 points
Bonita Vista Barons 0-7-1, 1 point

Tuesday, Jan. 15
Eastlake 1, Bonita Vista 0
Olympian 4, Otay Ranch 2
Hilltop 1, Mater Dei Catholic 0

Thursday, Jan. 17
Olympian 2, Bonita Vista 0
Eastlake 2, Mater Dei Catholic 2
Otay Ranch 4, Hilltop 0

Tuesday, Jan. 22

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

Thursday, Jan. 24
Hilltop 1, Bonita Vista 0
Olympian 3, Eastlake 0
Otay Ranch 3, Mater Dei Catholic 0

Tuesday, Jan. 29
Otay Ranch 1, Bonita Vista 1
Hilltop 2, Eastlake 1
Mater Dei Catholic 6, Olympian 1

Thursday, Jan. 31
Eastlake 3, Bonita Vista 1
Otay Ranch 2, Olympian 0
Hilltop 1, Mater Dei Catholic 1

Tuesday, Feb. 5
Olympian 6, Bonita Vista 1
Mater Dei Catholic 4, Eastlake 0
Hilltop 0, Otay Ranch 0

Thursday, Feb. 7
Otay Ranch 6, Eastlake 3
Hilltop 2, Olympian 0
Mater Dei Catholic 5, Bonita Vista 0

South Bay League Boys Standings
Chula Vista 9-1-0, 27 points
Southwest 9-1-0, 27 points
San Ysidro 4-6-1, 13 points
*Montgomery 3-3-3, 12 points
Castle Park 3-5-3, 12 points
*Sweetwater 2-5-2, 8 points
Mar Vista 0-9-1, 1 point
Note: missing game of 2-7-2013, Sweetwater vs. Montgomery


Mesa League Girls Standings
Eastlake 7-0-1, 22 points
Hilltop 7-0-1, 22 points
Bonita Vista 5-3-0, 15 points
Otay Ranch 1-5-2, 5 points
Olympian 1-6-1, 4 points
Mater Dei Catholic 0-7-1, 1 points

Thursday, Feb. 7
Bonita Vista 3, Mater Dei Catholic 1
Eastlake 2, Otay Ranch 0
Hilltop 6, Olympian 2



South Bay League Girls Standings
San Ysidro 9-1-1, 28 points
Southwest 7-2-1, 22 points
Sweetwater 5-2-2, 17 points
Chula Vista 4-5-1, 13 points
Mar Vista 3-6-1, 10 10 points
Montgomery 2-5-2, 8 points
Castle Park 1-9-0, 3 points
Note: missing game of 2-7-2013, Sweetwater vs. Montgomery

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