Young Trojans are primed for successful soccer season


MENDOTA – The Mendota High School boys’ soccer team will play an 11-game regular season schedule and a Big Northern Conference Tournament over a five-week span this spring.

The Trojans will boast a young squad, with no seniors and only six juniors among the 18 players on the varsity roster. Coach Nick Myers said the top returning players include juniors Yahir Diaz, Josue Arteaga, Jose Ruiz, Alex Mandujano and Luis Garcia, and sophomore Rafa Romero.

During the 2019 season, Diaz, a striker, piled up 29 goals and 17 assists on his way to first-team all-Big Northern Conference honors.

“He’s a constant threat to score,” noted Myers. “He loves soccer and works hard every day in the off-season to become better. He leads by example, and encourages and pushes others to help make the team successful.”

Arteaga was a second-team all-conference selection in 2019 from the centerback position, while Ruiz is a center defensive midfielder who was an honorable mention all-conference representative.

Myers indicated that junior Manny Trejo will be the Trojans’ number one goalkeeper this season.

“He has worked his tail off to become bigger, faster and stronger,” explained Myers. “He has quick reflexes, is always in the right spots in goal and sees things developing ahead of time. He’s also a main leader on this team.”

Myers added that sophomores Jasiel Watson, Johnathan Cortez, David Garcia, Ricki Orozco and Edgar Arteaga will have expanded roles and should step up and contribute on the varsity level this season.

Even though there are no seniors on the squad, Myers is encouraged that there are many returning players from the team that posted an 18-4-1 record in 2019 and being made up of over 75 percent underclassmen.

“Last year, a challenge of ours was we were inexperienced at the varsity level,” said Myers. “That challenge has now turned into a strength of ours with a majority of that team back this year and still young.

“Another strength is just our chemistry and togetherness. This team gets along, they all show up for workouts even when it’s not mandatory. They have the same goal, which is to win our first-ever sectional this fall and hopefully go even further than that.”

With a short season and no post-season games, Myers is looking at this unique situation to gain experience and get ready for the fall. He also has his sights on a second straight conference championship. But he is cautious that the team remains focused each time they take the field and they do not overlook anyone on the schedule.

“I’ve stressed for over a year now that we can’t take the success of last season and just expect that to win us games,” noted Myers. “Nobody is going to roll over and just let us win. Now, the target is on our backs and they have to step up even more and be ready to get everyone’s best performance against us.”

In addition to winning the conference title, Myers said one of the goals this short season is to improve every time they play.

“Our main focus since October of 2019 has been to get back to sectional and win it,” he said. “So, this spring we are focusing on improving and getting ready for fall. We no seniors on the team, it helps knowing our whole squad is back again this fall.”