Daily Pilot Boys’ Soccer Dream Team: Huntington Beach could swim in deep end with Reid Fisher
Senior year brings about a sense of urgency in certain student-athletes, and Huntington Beach center back Reid Fisher is one of those players.
Coming off a run to the CIF Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinals, Fisher had a hunger that could not be satisfied, and it did not matter that the Oilers had been promoted to Division 1.
“Even before the season started, I got with all the guys and I said, ‘Hey, this is our last chance. Let’s see if we can do it,’” Fisher said. “Everyone was like, ‘Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s do it.’”
“There were days where we’d only practice for an hour, and we’d stay after for probably two or three, we’d just go over stuff and have fun. At times, it didn’t even feel like we were doing extra. It just felt like we were having fun with all our best friends.”
The senior captain issued the challenge, and his teammates answered the call. Fisher, the Daily Pilot Boys’ Soccer Dream Team Player of the Year, again starred for the Oilers in a year that saw them win an outright Wave League title and go as far as any team in program history has gone before in making it to the Division 1 semifinals.
Huntington Beach (17-4-5, 5-0-1 in the Wave League) outscored the opposition 53-13, showing what a team can be capable of when it has the highest confidence in how it will play directly in front of its own goal.
For four years, Huntington Beach had the luxury of running out Fisher at center back and Daniel Kotkosky as its goalkeeper. Both were All-CIF Division 1 honorees this season.
Huntington Beach had a thrilling penalty-kick victory at San Clemente in the pouring rain in the second round, and only a road tilt in the semifinals with eventual champion Servite stood in the way of the Oilers advancing to the CIF finals.
“We knew we were coming into the season as underdogs,” Fisher said. “I think everyone but ourselves overlooked us, and I think in the locker room, we all thought we were the best team in California, and so for everyone else to look at us as an underdog, we all felt disrespected.
“Every game, we wanted to come out and prove it with our play and how physical we are, and just kind of carry a chip on our shoulder the whole way.”
The Oilers had belief, earned in part from the deep playoff run made the year before. Fisher, who had an overtime goal against Tustin to win the second-round match that season, referred to that team as the “founding fathers” of the special season that was to come.
“I think that’s where we built our team camaraderie and how we learned to deal with each other and how to have everyone speak their mind without it going too overboard,” Fisher said.
Fisher, the Wave League MVP, had five goals and eight assists for Huntington Beach. Kotkosky certainly appreciated his contributions at both ends of the field, even if he would rather have his fate in his own hands as a goalkeeper.
“I’d probably rather be punching the corner out,” Kotkosky said when asked who he would rather have play balls in the air. “Obviously, I have my hands. … I think on offense, for sure, Reid’s one of the best, if not the best player to be up there. I think 90% of the corners and throw-ins that we had to him ended up in a ball bouncing around the middle of the box, all because of his flick or his ball back into the box.
“I think us both being so great in the air was really helpful for not really giving up any set pieces.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Huntington Beach made steady progress over the past few seasons. The class of 2022 began its time at Huntington Beach with a Wave League championship, but the Oilers suffered a first-round defeat in the Division 2 playoffs to Estancia. They advanced a round further the next year, and in 2021, the Oilers dismissed the Eagles from the postseason as part of a run to the Division 2 quarterfinals. Asked what advice he took to heart from Dick, Fisher said the whole team bought into this motto: “The only team that can beat us is ourselves.” Huntington Beach certainly looked like a team of believers en route to another Wave League championship and a trip to the final four in the section’s top division this season.
FW | Huntington Beach | Sr.
While the Oilers set their foundation in front of their own net, Dykes provided a threat for scoring from the run of play. The speedy forward led the Oilers in scoring for the third straight season, amassing eight goals and six assists. Dykes, a three-year starter and a first-team selection for the Wave League, has committed to Hope International University.
FW | Edison | Sr.
Marquez tickled the twine 13 times and provided six assists to lead Edison (9-8-3, 4-2 in the Surf League). His team-leading goal total was highlighted by a hat-trick in a 3-0 win against Beckman in the Laguna Hills Hawks Invitational. The Surf League Offensive MVP produced five goals and two assists in league play, helping the Chargers earn a playoff berth with a second-place finish.
FW | Newport Harbor | Sr.
For most of the season, a stingy defense kept the Sailors in every game. Perez, the co-Wave League Offensive MVP, provided the necessary contributions across the midfield stripe to make sure those defensive efforts did not go to waste. Despite two losses in the second half of league, Newport Harbor (8-6-4, 3-2-1) posed the greatest threat to Huntington Beach again and navigated its way into the postseason.
FW | Estancia | Sr.
Following an 0-9-1 start to the season, the Eagles flipped the switch when the calendar turned to January. Estancia (7-12-2, 7-2-1) experienced quite the turnaround in Orange Coast League play, saving its season in the process. Solis, the Orange Coast League MVP, had eight goals and seven assists.
MF | Corona del Mar | Sr.
There is a lot of room on the pitch between the two 18-yard boxes, and that is the area Cianfrani patrolled. The senior midfielder served as a captain for the Sea Kings. The Surf League first-team honoree was strong in possession for CdM, adding two goals and two assists when he joined the play offensively.
MF | Los Amigos | Jr.
The Lobos used a balanced but explosive attack to claim their first Garden Grove League title since 2019, one that was shared three ways with Loara and Santiago. Gutierrez, the Garden Grove League Offensive Player of the Year, had five goals and six assists for Los Amigos (15-4-1, 8-1-1), which reached the Division 3 quarterfinals. The junior midfielder was one of seven Lobos to score at least five goals this season.
MF | Marina | Sr.
Marina coach Gabriel Lucatero called Mendoza, a two-year starter and three-year varsity player, “the engine” of the team. The Vikings (5-13-2, 3-3 in the Wave League) funneled their offense through the center attacking midfielder, who primarily set up his teammates. Mendoza shared Wave League Offensive MVP honors with Newport Harbor’s Bryan Perez.
DEF | Estancia | Jr.
A three-year varsity player already, Esquivel brings the intangibles of leadership and motivation, according to Estancia coach Robert Castellano. The junior center back received Orange Coast League first team honors after supplying two goals and three assists this season.
DEF | Los Amigos | Sr.
Los Amigos gave up a total of 26 goals this season, but nearly half of the opposition’s tallies came in a two-game span in nonleague matches against Huntington Beach and Pacifica. Martinez led a back line that kept 10 clean sheets, including six shutouts in league play. The Garden Grove League Defensive Player of the Year added one goal and one assist. He earned All-CIF Division 3 honors. The Lobos notched their first playoff victory since 2015 in the first round against Esperanza.
DEF | Huntington Beach | Sr.
The contributions that the Oilers received from the back cannot be understated. While Fisher earned a reputation for being good in the air on headers, it was often Melitas, a fellow senior defender, whose services he was running onto the other end of. The Wave League first-team selection and prominent set piece weapon pushed five goals across and assisted on eight others.
GK | Huntington Beach | Sr.
Called up to varsity as a freshman, Kotkosky starred in goal for the Oilers for the duration of his prep career. The dominance of the Harvey Mudd College commit can be explained with one statistic: Kotkosky recorded 14 shutouts this season, compared with just 13 goals allowed. Kotkosky, an All-CIF Division 1 selection who was the Wave League Defensive MVP, was also an asset in penalty kicks, and not just as a stopper. He scored on his attempt in a shootout win at San Clemente in the second round of the playoffs.
Position, Name, School, Year
FW Omar Arciga, Los Amigos, Sr.
FW Gabriel Castellanos, Ocean View, Sr.
FW Izaiah Franco, Los Amigos, Sr.
FW Russell Munier, Edison, Sr.
MF Alex De Leon, Estancia, Jr.
MF Cade Holden, Newport Harbor, Jr.
MF Tyler Kakimoto, Huntington Beach, Sr.
MF Cruz Valdovinos, Estancia, Sr.
MF Calvin Fochler, Corona del Mar, Jr.
DEF Kevin Blanco, Edison, Sr.
DEF Bradley Kirkman, Huntington Beach, Sr.
DEF Antonio Manriquez, Newport Harbor, Jr.
GK Ethan Smithlin, Costa Mesa, Jr.
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