BOYS SOOCER: Cougars taking it to another level

Led by returning junior captain Angel Trejo, right, the

Successful JV season and 14 returners has CHS soccer eager to
start varsity campaign
From the get-go, Christopher High boys varsity soccer head coach Stephen Casey made it perfectly clear to his players that stakes will be raised as they enter their first year in the Monterey Bay League as a varsity program.

Though the team, all 20 of them, has been together roughly two weeks in organized practices, Casey has noticed the culture of his team already beginning to change.

“I explained to them that this year is going to be totally different than last year,” Casey said. “We are going to be in really tough, close games. There won’t be any blowouts like we had last season. We will really have to play as a team and that’s one of the biggest things. And you can tell right from the beginning that they have a different attitude.”

The Cougars enjoyed a promising amount of success at the junior varsity level a year ago, piecing together a 16-2-2 record. CHS returns 14 players from that squad, including leading goal scorer Christiano Manzo and fellow midfielders Ivan Reynoso and Braulio Lopez, helping to solidify an area where Casey perceives his team will be strong this season.

“The returners know the program already, so having returning players is definitely a strength,” he said.

Freshman Carlos Jimenez will also make an impact in the middle for the Cougars, Casey added.

Before taking on the task of facing a league that features the Central Coast Section Division I champion Watsonville Wildcatz, the Cougars have a team-quality-tester of a preseason to navigate through.

The Cougars open up against Sobrato on Dec. 1, before taking on two CCS playoff qualifiers from a year ago, Live Oak and Pacific Collegiate. CHS is also signed on to participate in the Homestead Christmas Cup, a preseason tournament running through December open to the entire section.

“I think it’s going to prepare us for what lies ahead of us in league,” Casey said. “It will kind of show where we are at right at the beginning.”

In the six-team MBL of a year ago (now seven with the addition of CHS), the Wildcatz, North Monterey County and Pajaro Valley finished with records .500 or better.

“The level we will play at is going to be tough,” junior stopper Angel Trejo said. “We are hoping to connect as a team and have a good year. So far we look pretty good as a team, as a whole. No one is really playing individually.

“I know that league has tough teams who are really competitive,” Trejo continued. “But we want to give them a run for their money.”

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