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Trojan kickers making things happen Phillip Brents | Fri, Jan 24 2014 08:23 PM

Things are definitely looking up for the Castle Park High School soccer program, on both the boys and girls sides. The CP boys team improved to 10-2-1 following Wednesday’s 1-0 non-league victory at Montgomery while the Trojan girls team played to a 0-0 draw against the visiting Aztecs to extend its record to 4-4-3.

There’s plenty to get excited about. Castle Park’s boys team appears to be a legitimate contender for the inaugural Metro-Pacific League title while the Trojan girls team has already surpassed last season’s totals for wins and goals scored.

“Things are looking up if we continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point of the season,” CPHS boys coach Jose Cobian Jr. explained. “We want to keep it going but know it’s going to be a challenge against strong teams like Hilltop and Chula Vista, which are in our league. But we’re up for the challenge.”

The Trojans squared off in a key match last Friday at Mater Dei Catholic, with much riding on the outcome as both teams are jockeying for seeding position in the upcoming San Diego Section Division II playoffs. Castle Park emerged with a huge 4-1 victory on the strength of three goals by superstar Felipe Liborio Jr.

The Trojans entered the game ranked ninth among section teams and did little to hurt themselves in the weekly rankings.

Southwest is ranked seventh in the section; both Hilltop and Chula Vista receive automatic berths in the Open Division playoffs.

“It looks like it’s going to be a strong year for South Bay soccer,” Cobian said.

Castle Park finished second in the Grossmont Conference Holiday Classic over the winter break, losing 2-1 to Torrey Pines. “I’m not tooting my own horn but I think we were the better team,” Cobian said “They just scored more goals than us.”

Liborio has been a force, scoring 18 goals in nine games. He netted the game-winner in Wednesday’s match, assisted by Abraham Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also had a goal and assist in the win over Mater Dei Catholic while Alejandro Rodriguez picked up one assist.

Erwin Campos recorded the shutout in Wednesday’s game by making five saves. Campos had four saves in last Friday’s game, allowing one second-half goal to the Crusaders’ Carlos Ferrer.

The Trojans have recorded five shutout victories this season.

New horizons
First-year head coach Victor Vargas likes what he sees so far at CPHS. The Trojans finished 2-14 last season, just 1-11 in league play, and were outscored 42-12.

The Trojans rewarded Vargas with his first head coaching win in the team’s first game this season, a 5-2 non-league victory against Lincoln, and won their second game by a 2-0 score against Morse before going 0-3 in December’s Barons Girls Soccer Tournament, losing to both finalists (Our Lady of Peace and Southwest) in the Limited Division. 

The Trojans already have scored more goals (15) than all last season and have doubled the win total. It’s added up to a positive start.

“We want to build a program here,” said Vargas, who served as an assistant coach at Hilltop for nine years. “It’s going to take some time, though. We had 33 girls out for tryouts this year; we want that number to be 50, even 100, girls in the future. You build a program, you build a tradition.”

The Trojans have a pair of freshmen to certainly build a program around — Rikie Guardado and Sarah Rodriguez.

Guardado leads the team in scoring with nine goals, followed by sophomore Christina Hernandez with five goals. Guardado scored four goals in her first varsity game.

Even with the absence of goals in Wednesday’s non-league match-up, it was an entertaining match to watch with chances going both ways.

•Hilltop’s girls team is off to a 6-4-1 start following the Lancers’ 3-1 non-league win against San Diego on Jan. 14. Among other Metro-Pacific League members, Chula Vista is 5-8 while Sweetwater is 2-5-1.

•Among Metro-Pacific boys teams, Chula Vista is 6-4-1 after topping Granite Hills, 2-1, on Jan. 18 while Hilltop improved to 6-7-1 after dealing host Eastlake a 1-0 setback on Jan. 16. Sweetwater dropped to 6-5-1 following a 3-2 non-league loss to seventh-ranked Southwest (9-1-3) on Wednesday. Chula Vista hosts Southwest in a marquee match-up on Friday.

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