Despite graduating 13 seniors off last year’s squad, the Christopher High boys soccer team looks to be in solid shape as it begins Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa East Division play against Sobrato High on Jan. 11.
The Cougars entered the week at 4-1-2, including a 4-0 win over Piedmont Hills on Dec. 21. Christopher received goals from Edisson Torres, Ezra Echauri, Josh Alvarez and Avery Montejano in the victory, and coach Josue Salgado hopes it will be a harbinger for the league season.
Salgado said he’s particularly excited about his backline which includes Torres, freshman Victor Ogieriakhi and juniors Nicholas Armeniakos and Daniel Diaz. Armeniakos didn’t play last year but has plenty of soccer experience.
“He brings a maturity we need on the team, on and off the field,” Salgado said. “He’s very good at reading plays, tackles really well and also is able to play out of the back which is nice. I’m looking for Nico to hold that backline and play off of him.”
Diaz and Torres also provide experience and maturity in the back, and Armeniakos has lined up next to Ogieriakhi, a center back who packs plenty of potential.
“Victor is a fantastic prospect and I’m super excited for his high school career,” Salgado said.
The midfield also looks to be a strength of the team with Echauri, Gilmar Torres and Michael Ruiz leading the way. Echauri didn’t play last year but has tremendous skill, as does Gilmar Torres.
“Ezra is a heckuva player,” Salgado said. “He’s good on the ball, good going forward and is next to Gilmar Torres, who is a fantastic player and very creative on the ball and a great dribbler.”
Salgado said Gilmar Torres added another element to his game—superior vision and passing—that the junior didn’t have last season and has made the team more formidable. While not as flashy, sophomore Ruiz plays hard, is scrappy, wins 50-50 balls and brings the intangibles every team needs to be successful.
“Michael is the guy who does a lot of the dirty work,” Salgado said. “He has a really big motor which allows Ezra and Gilmar to be the ones that are a little more creative and join up on the attack while Mikey is more of the defensive midfielder. That balance works out really well.”
Montejano, a freshman forward, has utilized his speed to score goals and has shown plenty of potential.
“Avery is not exactly where we need him to be yet, but he’s getting better every game,” Salgado said.
The team is still looking to get its forwards solidified, but has been hit by injuries. Salgado said he’s hoping senior striker Jared Prieto will be fully healthy soon, which will boost the team up top. Jose Ramirez is another player who can help offensively, but he’s currently injured and Salgado is unsure on the timeline of his return.
Salgado said the squad has two excellent goalkeepers in starter Ricardo Bustamante and Max Hernandez, who split time during the non-league matches leading up to league play. Bustamante will take the reins for the league season and if anything happens, the Cougars have more than a capable backup in Hernandez.
Christopher’s best result might have actually come in its lone loss, 1-0 to Hollister on Dec. 6. The Haybalers are an A-league team and the Cougars played hard but ultimately fell short. However, Salgado knows if the team continues to coalesce, CHS is primed for another solid season.