Two years ago, Clarence Montoya and Ray Parks guided their Robertson boys’ and girls’ soccer teams to dual district championships — a first for the school in the sport.
In spite of some key losses to graduation, both clubs have a great shot at duplicating that feat.
For Parks’ Lady Cardinals, another district title would mean a threepeat on the heels of last year. While they’ve lost a few strong athletes, the core remains intact. Ari Trujillo, a speedy scoring threat, is back. So is captain Samantha Marshall, an expressive leader.
Ditto for fellow seniors Desiree Martinez, Marsha Fernandez, Taria Clayton and Ashley Lucero, not to mention a very good group of juniors (namely the sharp MariaLucia Carrillo and savvy Rheanne Parks) and sophomores.
Depth is certainly not a problem, as the program continues a strong pipeline of underclassmen. That lessens the blow of losing KimCruz Carrillo and Dennette Lucero, co-captains a year ago.
Clayton and Montoya split time last year at keeper; both return to anchor the defense.
For the boys’ team, there’s also plenty of upside. Coach Montoya lost senior standouts Michael Padilla, Luciano Urrutia, Max Trujillo, Stefano Matuella and keeper Jose Maestas, to name a few of the dozen who graduated.
But because the Cardinals had no juniors last season, this year’s entire group is poised to stay together for at least a couple seasons. Two of the team’s most promising athletes — Keen Martinez and Henry Robertson — are just sophomores. Montoya describes Martinez as “skilled, a good distributor of the ball,” and Robertson as “pretty fast.” The junior class includes such notables as R.J. McNellis, Tobin Lobdell, Isaac Hidalgo and Casey McElroy. Clint Brayfield inherits Maestas’ spot minding the net.
Bolstering this crew is a good early turnout. “We usually get about 15 or so at first,” Montoya noted, “but this year we got 24, so they’ve come out early. Hopefully we’ll get one or two more.”
Like the girls’ squad, the boys are a leading contender to win district. “It’s gonna come down between us and Moreno Valley (last year’s champ). But they lost a lot of players.”