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Will South County teams prove tough enough in upcoming CIF playoffs? Phillip Brents | Fri, Feb 21 2014 03:21 PM

The San Diego Section divisional playoffs start next week as teams put the finishing touches on regular season play, with league champions securing automatic playoff berths.

Both the section soccer and basketball playoffs start Tuesday, Feb. 25.

The Otay Ranch Mustangs have locked up the Metro-Mesa League boys soccer championship for 2013-14 and will participate in the upcoming Division I playoffs. The Mustangs tied visiting Mater Dei Catholic, 1-1, on Wednesday to extend their league record to 5-0-2, 9-4-4 overall.

“We are looking forward to this year’s playoffs,” Otay Ranch coach Brian Lewis explained. “I feel that we have had a really good season so far. The entire pre-season we struggled with a number of injuries with our returning starters. As our players came back from injuries, we began to improve and I am very pleased with all the hard work our boys have put in.
We are excited and plan for a great result in playoffs.”

Lewis said key players this season have included senior center-backs Jonathan Melgar and Salvador Flores and junior center-midfielders Luis Arambulo and Jordan Sloan.

“We hope to finish undefeated in league play,” said Lewis, whose team hosts Bonita Vista on Friday.

The Hilltop girls team improved to 5-0 in Metro-Pacific League play after defeating host Sweetwater, 4-0, on Wednesday. Goal-scorers for the Lancers (15-5-1 overall) included Tehya Peterson, Jordyn Ramos, Isela Leonor and Bianca Mora.

Hilltop has dominated league play by out-scoring Castle Park 19-2 in two games and Sweetwater 12-0 in two games. The Lancers, who close out league play Friday with a home match against Chula Vista, topped the Spartans 5-0 in the opening round of league play.

Hilltop will compete in the Division I playoffs alongside Metro-Mesa League champion Bonita Vista (16-3-2) after the Barons blanked host Eastlake, 2-0, on Wednesday to secure the league title.

Lancer captains Breanna Bregado, Hannah Teague, Mora and Peterson remain optimistic about the upcoming playoffs.
“We’re a very young team but we’re still pretty strong,” Teague noted.

“This year, the bond is stronger between players, we have good team chemistry,” Bregado said.

“We’re excited and focused and know we’ll do our best,” Mora added.

Power rankings
San Diego Section Commissioner Jerry Schniepp announced that this year’s basketball playoffs will be seeded according to power rankings that attempt to rank teams both by win-loss record and strength of schedule.

The Sweetwater Red Devils are virtually even with the Kearny Komets in the Division III boys section power rankings.

At 24-0, the Red Devils have the opportunity to complete an undefeated 25-0 regular season campaign with a win on Friday against visiting Castle Park, and hold a narrow 0.15-point edge over the Komets (20-2) for the No. 1 seeding position.

Sweetwater athletic director Tim Latham suggested the section’s revised playoff structure is on the right track. “Being down in the divisions has helped us,” he said. “The kids know they are going to have competitive games (in the playoffs) and are motivated and fired up.”

Latham said campus pride is high at the moment.

“Things are going our way right now,” he said. “I’ve always said that athletics go in cycles, we’re on an upswing.”

Both the Eastlake (Division I) and Mater Dei (Division II) boys teams are No. 1 in the section power rankings in their divisions while Calvary Christian Academy is third among Division IV teams and Lutheran is fourth among Division V teams.

Mater Dei’s girls team stands second in the Open Division power rankings (but has lost to No. 3 Mt. Miguel) while Chula Vista ranks third among Division II teams and Ocean View Christian Academy ranks second among Division IV girls teams, according to the section power rankings.

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