Prep Preview: Sunbelt League

BOYS PREP SOCCER 2015-’16
SUNBELT LEAGUE PREVIEW

(Records in parenthesis)

A top-heavy league is better than a league with no heavies so there’s a distinct appreciation for the Sunbelt League, where Lake Elsinore’s Lakeside and Temescal Canyon have been duking it out the last several seasons, showcasing most of the league’s best players while developing one of the better rivalries in the Inland Area.

Lakeside (20-6-3, 8-0-2) reached some major landmarks but lacked a postseason victory. This can be spun a number of ways — we like ‘The Lancers have nothing left to prove in the regular season’ — but even still it glosses over the Lancers’ lack of playoff success.

Temescal Canyon (14-6-4, 7-2-1) was beaten 2-0 and 2-1 by Lakeside down the stretch then, like Lakeside, fell out in in the playoff’s opening round. A key pair of all-league seniors graduated so coach Mason Dool must rely on some fresh faces.

Perris (6-13-3, 4-4-1) qualified for the playoffs but dropped points in their final three, and Coach Kevin Cauchon also would do well to avoid mid-season swoons like the Panthers’ nearly disastrous seven-game losing streak.

Menifee Paloma Valley (10-9-4, 4-4-2) is young and dangerous and will be in the hunt for a playoff berth. Sophomore forward Blaine Grillo had 13 goals last season.

Elsinore (3-12-2, 1-5-2) must hope for a massive season from senior forward Diego Esquivel, a 2015 Sueno Alianza tryout finalist.

Menifee Heritage (2-15-2, 0-9-0) finished the season with nine consecutive losses. There’s no place to go but up.

PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
Lakeside
Temescal Canyon
Paloma Valley
Elsinore
Perris
Heritage

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
MF/F Diego Esquivel (Sr., Elsinore)
GK Tyler Garrard (Sr., Lake Elsinore Lakeside)
F Blaine Grillo (Soph., Menifee Paloma Valley)
F Alfonso Hernandez (Sr., Lake Elsinore Lakeside)
F Jonathan Martinez (Soph., Menifee Heritage)
F Christian Ramos (Sr., Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon)
MF/F Hiram Ugues (Sr., Menifee Paloma Valley)
MF Israel Vasquez (Sr., Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon)

PROMINENT GAMES:
Nov. 30 — Lakeside at Temecula Chaparral, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 7 — Lakeside at Redlands East Valley, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 8 — Temecula Great Oak at Paloma Valley, 5 p.m.
Dec. 17 — Riverside King at Elsinore, 5 p.m.
Jan. 13 — Lakeside at Temescal Canyon, 5 p.m.

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