Introducing Bay Area Preps HQ’s soccer column: Rankings, more

With so much soccer talent in the region and rich team traditions, we are making a move to recognize the dedicated competitors with our new Bay Area Preps HQ soccer column and Top 10 boys and girls rankings, which debut today.

Throughout the winter season we will rank the boys and girls squads based largely on regional and state polls; head-to-head competition; coaches’ recommendations; and the eye test.

The first girls’ rankings are topped by five consistent major players in Monte Vista, Carondelet, San Ramon Valley, Archbishop Mitty, and Liberty.

The Monte Vista Mustangs, whose roster annually boasts college-bound talent galore, earned the East Bay Athletic League and CIF Northern California Regional Division I titles last season. But the Mustangs were upended by rival San Ramon Valley in the North Coast Section semifinals. The Wolves then fell to Carondelet in the final.


If you have not already, we strongly encourage you to sign up for a digital subscription, which gives you access to all content on the Mercury News and East Bay Times websites. With your support, we can continue bringing these stories — and much more — to your screens. Here’s where to sign up for the season pass: Mercury News, East Bay Times.

The boys’ rankings are led by powerhouses Montgomery, Bellarmine College Prep, De La Salle, Berkeley, and Richmond, but there’s a bunch of other teams knocking on the door. San Ramon Valley opened the current season in a big way, combining for eight goals in wins over Freedom and Heritage before falling at unbeaten Vintage 3-1.

Here are some soccer notebook items from the region:

Dream finish

Last season had a magical ending for Bellarmine, which beat Jesuit of Carmichael 2-1 in the Division I CIF Northern California Regional Championship game, on goals by Mario Barocio and Tate Hackett. The Bells, who finished second behind St. Ignatius in the West Catholic Athletic League, closed the season with eight straight wins. They took the Central Coast Section Division I title as the No. 4 seed, in a run which included an upset of the No. 1 seed Watsonville in the semifinals.

Berkeley’s amazing netminder

The solid Berkeley girls squad boasts a spectacular and highly dedicated goalkeeper in under-18 national team pool player Leah Freeman.

Freeman, a Mustang Soccer Club player known for her highlight-reel saves, has signed with the University of Oregon. Freeman teamed with former Carondelet star Angelina Anderson, now at Cal, in club play.

“She’s athletic with a work ethic that’s insane,” Berkeley coach Alejandro Mendoza said of Freeman. “She’s one of those kids that wakes up 5 a.m. and does extra workouts. She’s a straight up jock.”

He added that Freeman “punts the ball 75 yards.”

Mendoza, just 24 years old, is in his second year as head coach at Berkeley and his sixth year at the school. The Saint Mary’s College High graduate saw the Yellowjackets program take a step forward last season and likes the work ethic and balance of his current bunch.

Last year, Berkeley fell to Liberty 1-0 in two overtimes in the NCS Division I quarterfinals.

DLS looks tough again

Speaking of keepers, De La Salle junior Sebastian Ramirez is a very solid third-year starter, which means he enters this season fresh off back-to-back East Bay Athletic League championships. In Ramirez’s freshman season, the Spartans won the North Coast Division I title before finishing second in NCS behind Berkeley last season.

Well-stocked De La Salle, which has a very capable backup keeper as well, opened the new season impressively with back-to-back 1-0 road wins over Clovis and Clovis North.

De La Salle is led by UC Davis-bound Dom Giusto, along with Ben Parker and Sebastian Ramirez. Standout Ramiro Rosas will join the team after his academy season.

“Our backline returns two out of the four who started last year, so that’s always a good place to start,” De La Salle coach Derricke Brown said this week. “I think we just have a collection of guys in our front line who have a ton of pace, our forward set, our highest line of pressure, obviously. They did a great job the first couple of games with their energy and that’s a big part of our system as well.”

Brown, who played at Saint Mary’s College, calls himself a “proud Gael.” He’s been the De La Salle head coach for nine seasons and an associate athletic director for 10 years.

The mindset of the De La Salle soccer program is much like that of the football program.

“I think it’s kind of school-wide principle in terms of attention to detail, discipline, but most importantly just trying to come together as a group and enjoy the experience as best we can,” Brown said.

Mitty power

Like the elite East Bay girls’ teams, Mitty has several Division I-bound players. Senior Teresa Garcia, a four-year varsity player, has signed with Davis. She’ll be joined there the following year by Mitty junior Alex Arancio, a verbal commit with the Aggies. Junior Enna Vane is being recruited by several Division I programs, as are seniors Svea Neunfinger and Erika Silveira.

Mitty coach J.T. Hanley sees a lot of quality in the CCS, mentioning the likes of Los Gatos, Palo Alto and St. Francis. He also expects Leland to continue to improve under coach Stephanie Bloom and good things from Mountain View under coach Jeff Panos, who took over for Ivan Bandov.

Bay Area Preps HQ girls Top 10

Records through Dec. 9

1. Monte Vista (1-0)

2. Carondelet (0-0)

3. San Ramon Valley (0-0)

4. Archbishop Mitty (2-0)

5. Liberty (0-1)

6. California (2-0)

7. Montgomery (4-0)

8. Livermore (1-0)

9. Soquel (5-1)

10. Los Gatos (1-0)

Bay Area Preps HQ boys Top 10

Records through Dec. 9

1. Montgomery (3-0)

2. Bellarmine College Prep (2-0)

3. De La Salle (2-0)

4. Berkeley (2-0-1)

5. Richmond (0-0)

6. Watsonville (3-0)

7. Vintage (3-0)

8. San Ramon Valley (2-1)

9. Las Lomas (0-0)

10. Archbishop Mitty (1-0)


Show More
Back to top button