Corona del Mar
Coach: Barry O'Dea (ninth year)
Players to watch: Matt Sherburne (Sr.); Jay Neiger (Sr.); Jack Trush (Jr.); Ashton Jajonie (Jr.); Charlie Rodosky (Sr.); Kirby Morrow (Sr.); Logan Piper (Sr.); Wade Munger (Sr.).
You should know: CdM graduated 13 seniors from last year's team which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals, including Newport-Mesa Player of the Year Reid Chase (Stanford). And Sherburne, a center, is the only returning starter. But O'Dea looks for a competitive team this year, thanks in part to an overall program that he said is on the upswing with regard to participation numbers. He said CdM has 73 kids in its program.
"People talk about, 'CdM graduated the farm,'" O'Dea said. "But I tell the guys, 'We have a plantation here, not a farm.'"
O'Dea, who was the program's fourth coach in four years when he was hired in 2005, has provided stability. He said this summer, when CdM placed fourth in a tournament in Australia, was one of the best summers the program has had in a long time. CdM also had a successful Junior Olympics, making the 18-and-under classic division final before falling in a shootout.
Sherburne and junior Jack Trush, the younger brother of graduate Kyle Trush, provide stability at center. O'Dea said there is competition at the goalie spot between senior Ryan Hamm and junior Nigel Bress.
Overall, O'Dea said his team will try to peak at the end of the year, as it often does. The Sea Kings begin the year ranked No. 7 in Division 1.
— Matt Szabo
Coach: Justin Taylor (seventh year)
Players to watch: James Rydjeski (Jr.); Deighton Tachiki-Urias (Jr.); Nick Lewis (Jr.); Mason Cooper (Sr.); Sagang Wee (Sr.); Quinn Smith (Jr.); Raymond Andrade (Jr.); Matt Brown (Jr.).
You should know: The top scorer from last year, Wyatt Ferris (117 goals), has graduated. But the Mustangs return five starters from last year's squad, which finished second in the Orange Coast League and advanced to the wild-card round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
Rydjeski, a first-team All-Orange Coast League and Newport-Mesa Dream Team selection last year at goalie, anchors the Mesa defense. He made 300 saves last year as a sophomore, which ranked fifth in the Mustangs' all-time record book for a single season.
Taylor said he expects a more balanced scoring attack this year. Along with the five returning starters, he said he expects big things out of Smith, a junior utility player who split time between the varsity and junior varsity last year. Taylor said that Smith has the hardest shot on the team.
Taylor said he believes the Mustangs should win a lot of games this season, and could make it to top-two in league again. The opponent which might present the biggest obstacle to that goal is Saddleback, which is an away match for Costa Mesa on Oct. 16.
— Matt Szabo