The Laguna Beach boys' soccer team got its season off to a great start and launched the Daniel Richards coaching era at the school in winning fashion Wednesday defeating host Sage Hill, 4-1.
Laguna fell behind 1-0 within the first five minutes of the match but was able to pull into a 1-1 tie at the half when forward Reece Barton scored off an assist from forward Sam Stinnett. Breakers goalie Alec Williams and defender Jon Roberts each had saves and defender Brogan O'Bryan had one save to preserve the halftime tie.
"We showed a lot of character, coming back like that," Richards said. "We were able to make a few adjustments at halftime and really did a great job in the second half. We settled down and relaxed a bit and I told them to look for the extra pass and not try to force play."
The second half was all-Laguna, although the Breakers misfired on a direct kick and three other scoring opportunities. A goal by midfielder Joseph Rousseau, off an assist from midfielder Max Cano, at the 60-minute mark of play gave Laguna the lead for good.
Rousseau later scored again to put the lead at 3-1 and Stinnett scored off an assist from Barton to cap the comeback.
Laguna had 14 shots on goal and Williams finished with five saves.
Laguna's JV team was also victorious in its opener Wednesday, blanking Sage Hill, 5-0.
"I thought it was a great performance by our kids, especially in that first half," Richards said. "The intensity was great and it's a nice way to begin the season."
Richard's first team at Laguna includes returning varsity players Christian Alberran (defender/midfielder, Sr.), Reece Barton (midfielder/forward, Soph.), Max Cano (midfielder/forward, Sr.), Morgan Curry (midfielder/forward, Sr.), Austin Hilleman (defender, Jr.), Jonathan Roberts (defender, Sr.), Joseph Rousseau (midfielder/forward, Jr.), Travis Sampson (defender/midfielder, forward, Sr.), Miles Shirley (defender/midfielder, Jr.), Sam Stinnett (midfielder/forward, Sr.) and Alec Williams (goalie, Jr.).
Alberran, Barton, Curry, Roberts, Stinnett and Williams started last year.
Stinnett and Williams were first-team all-Orange Coast League and Alberran was second-team all-league.
New to the varsity roster this year, a group that includes three freshmen, are: Vinny Cano (defender, Sr.), Taylor Davidson (defender/midfielder, Fr.), Matthew Finkelstein (defender/midfielder, Soph.), Kevin Gomez (midfielder/forward, Fr.), Michael Kimball (midfielder, Jr.), Pearce Neal (midfielder/forward, Jr.), Paulo Noppenberger (defender/midfielder, Jr.), Brogan O'Bryan (defender, Jr.), Aaron Tang (defender, Jr.) and Chris Tellez (midfielder/forward, Fr.).
"I am delighted to be taking over the boys' soccer program at Laguna Beach as we look to build a strong and successful program for years to come," Richards said. "With the coaching staff we have in place, all the players will receive excellent training and have the opportunity to grow and develop both on and off the field. The coaching staff I have assembled are all true 'soccer people.' They all love the sport and are dedicated to passing their knowledge and passion for the game onto the students at Laguna Beach High."
"We are fortunate to have some very talented players in the program this year and are confident of being extremely competitive throughout the season. Our first goal is to build good team chemistry and instill the importance of a good work ethic among the players. It is my aim to ensure we develop the entire program from the frosh/soph team, all the way up to the varsity squad in order to guarantee prolonged success."
Laguna Beach girls' soccer Coach Bill Rolfing couldn't be reached by press time for a preview on his team. The Breakers are playing at the Ocean View Holiday Tournament in Huntington Beach today, Saturday and Monday.
Boys' soccer 2010-11 schedule
Dec. 1: 4-1 win over Sage Hill
Today: at San Juan Hills, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 17: vs. Dana Hills, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 20: University, 7 p.m.
Dec. 22: Orange Lutheran, 3 p.m.
Jan. 4: at Orange
Jan. 12: at *Estancia, 4:45 p.m.
Jan. 14: *Calvary Chapel, 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 19: *Godinez, 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 21: vs. *Costa Mesa, 4:45 p.m. (at Estancia High)
Jan. 26: *Saddleback, 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 28: *Estancia, 6:15 p.m.
Feb. 2: vs. *Calvary Chapel, 3:15 p.m. (at Centennial Park)
Feb. 4: at *Godinez, 3:15 pm.
Feb. 8: *Costa Mesa, 6:15 p.m.
Feb. 10: at *Saddleback, 3 p.m.
(* denotes Orange Coast League game)