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Santa Margarita Still Has Its Mind on No. 1

Boys: Failure to win fifth consecutive section title last season has made Eagles hungry for another championship.


If Coach Curt Bauer of Santa Margarita High had his way, the Eagle boys' soccer team would play as well in its first match of the season as its last.

Its offense would be as explosive, its passing as crisp and its defense as difficult to penetrate in late November as it would be in late February or early March.

But since Bauer has yet to see a high school soccer team hold a peak for three months, he'll settle for his team playing its best at the end of the season.

"Don't get me wrong," said Bauer, entering his 11th season at Santa Margarita. "I'd like to do great from start to finish, but if you're only going to play well in one or the other, I'd rather do well at the end."

Santa Margarita is traditionally strong at the finish. The Eagles won four consecutive Southern Section Division III titles from 1997-2000 and lost to eventual co-champion Santa Barbara in a semifinal shootout last season.

"That took the wind out of our sails at the end," senior defender Mike Losordo said. "But we got over that pretty quickly. Now we're using that loss as motivation to try and win another title."

Losordo is among seven returning starters for an Eagle squad that was 22-4-4 last season and is ranked second in the nation behind Irvine Woodbridge in a preseason poll by Student Sports magazine.

Forwards Matt Basin, Matt Holtrust and Christian Hanson, midfielder Tannen Wells and defenders Anthony Simino and Mike Vari are the other returning starters.

Basin scored a team-high 18 goals as a sophomore last season, but Santa Margarita's offense won't be a one-man show.

"We should be able to score a lot of goals," Bauer said. "We have a lot of guys who are capable of scoring.... The bottom line is that you can't just focus on stopping one guy.

"We're like a Shaq and Kobe team. If you double-team one player, the other will kill you."

Losordo, entering his third season as a starter for Santa Margarita, said it's nice to be regarded as one of the top teams in the nation among those that play soccer in the winter. But the national ranking won't mean a thing when the Eagles open their season against visiting Irvine on Wednesday.

"The ranking is nice," he said. "But it doesn't mean we can work any less. We still have to work just as hard because teams are going to be out to beat us more than ever."


La Puente Nogales, Long Beach Millikan, Santa Ana Mater Dei, Claremont, Santa Barbara, Temecula Chaparral and Alta Loma are other teams from the region ranked among the top 25 teams in the national poll, but Mater Dei Coach Martin Stringer scoffs at his team's No. 10 ranking.

"I place no value in them," he said of the national rankings. "They're pathetic. They're totally based on the end of last season.

"I have only three returning starters. I'm going to have five sophomores in the starting lineup. Now tell me how we're the No. 10-ranked team in the nation."

Taking nothing away from the top programs in Southern California, but being nationally ranked in a winter soccer poll doesn't mean as much as being nationally ranked in a cross-country or football poll.

That's because only seven states--California, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas--play soccer during the winter. Some Northern California sections play soccer during the recently completed fall season.

The fall is the dominant boys' soccer season for 31 states and the District of Columbia, with the spring being the dominant season for 12 states.

For those interested, St. Benedict's of Newark, N.J., was Student Sports' mythical fall national champion this year with a 27-0 record.

Carmichael Jesuit, about 10 miles outside of Sacramento, was the highest-ranked California team. It was fourth.


A name doesn't make a player, but is there an individual out there with a better soccer name than midfielder Stryker Matthews of Santa Margarita?



A preseason look at the Southland's top 10 boys' soccer teams:

1. Irvine Woodbridge (SS--Sea View League)

Nine of 11 starters, plus national under-17 player David Chun, are back for a Warrior team that last year advanced to the semifinals of the Southern Section Division II playoffs.

2. Santa Margarita (SS--Serra)

Seniors Matt Holtrust and Christian Hanson and junior Matt Basin comprise an explosive trio of forwards for a team that advanced to the Division III semifinals last year.

3. La Puente Nogales (SS--Sierra)

Nine starters return for a team that lost to Santa Ana Mater Dei, 2-0, in last year's Division II title game.

4. Long Beach Millikan (SS--Moore)

Nine starters return for a team that won the Division I title.

5. Santa Barbara (SS--Channel)

Six starters return for a 27-1-4 team that tied Brea Olinda, 0-0, in last year's Division III title game.

6. Temecula Chaparral (SS--Southwestern)

Eight starters return from an 18-3-4 team.

7. Alta Loma (SS--Mt. Baldy)

Eight starters return from a Division I semifinalist.

8. Anaheim Servite (SS--Serra)

Jeff Murphy, a center-midfielder, led the Friars to the championship of the Santa Barbara San Marcos tournament last summer.

9. Brea Olinda (SS--Orange)

Seven starters return from a 26-1-4 team that tied Santa Barbara for Division III title.

10. Capistrano Valley (SS--South Coast)

A Division I quarterfinalist last year.

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