The Edison boys' soccer team is No. 1 for good reason.
For starters, the Chargers are 19-0. Nineteen-and-Oh, and it's the "Oh" part that has been pretty impressive.
In 19 wins thus far — a school-record win streak, by the way — the Chargers have won 15 of those by shutout. In addition, in three other triumphs they held the opposition to a single goal.
The undefeated Chargers have held down the No. 1 spot in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll for the past month. Coach Charlie Breneman said that he learned Tuesday that Edison, which previously was ranked second, is now ranked No. 1 nationally by ESPN Rise.
So far, it's been quite an incredible ride for the Chargers, who next face rival Fountain Valley on Friday.
When the 2010-11 season began, Breneman — who was about to enter his sixth year as head coach at the school — said he was certain about his team's defensive skills but not settled about its offensive prowess. His worries have been for naught: his offense has averaged four goals per game. Three times it has scored seven goals in a game and drove home a season-high eight goals in an 8-0 shutout of Burroughs (Burbank) on Dec. 28.
Only once have the Chargers been held to a single goal and that came in a 1-0 win at Huntington Beach on Jan. 12.
The defense, with junior goalkeepers Scott Campbell and Kevin Johnson protecting the cage, has been outstanding. Campbell has 15 shutouts with 44 saves and Johnson has eight saves and has contributed toward five of those shutouts, Breneman said.
"Our defense has really been great and when the season began, I knew we'd have a strong unit," he said. "The cliché 'defense wins championships' is true. I never had a doubt about our defense. As for our offense, I was more concerned heading into the season where our goals would come from.
"Our ability to move the ball and our pace on the outside and up top has really ignited our offense. If a team is not organized enough, we break behind them and take control. Los Alamitos was extremely organized last week, but our guys rose to the occasion."
Although the Griffins came prepared, the Chargers still emerged with a 3-0 victory Jan. 19.
Breneman said he saw the potential of his team during the early stages of the 2009-10 season, when it won the Trabuco Hills tournament.
"We really hit our stride when we won that tournament," he recalled. "We didn't allow a goal in five games, I think. And we just went from there. I thought we had a good shot at winning a league championship and having a great season."
The Chargers did win a league championship in 2010. They went on to enjoy a 26-4-2 campaign that only came to an end in a loss on penalty kicks to Harvard-Westlake in a CIF semifinal game.
"We came back this season with more experience from a team that last year exceeded expectations," said Breneman, whose current roster features 12 seniors. "Our team is playing pretty well right now."
Edison has managed to keep its continuity in tact despite losing an important piece of its success. Breneman said that junior midfielder Jacob Rushing could be lost for the season. Rushing — who last year didn't score a goal but is one of three Chargers with 11 this season — suffered a heal injury in the Huntington game Jan. 12. Breneman said Rushing had an MRI earlier this week to see if there was a stress fracture.
Rushing, senior midfielder Mitchel Alvarez and senior forward/midfielder Tyler Bigenho each has scored 11 goals. Senior midfielder Bajj Chela leads the Chargers in scoring with 12 and also has 10 assists.
Edison, which has Aliso Cup and Trabuco Hills tournament titles to its credit this year, will continue on its march toward a possible repeat Sunset League championship when it plays at Fountain Valley on Friday. The Barons are the only opponent to have scored more than a single goal on the Chargers. In a league game played Jan. 2, Edison jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead, was up 5-1 and took an eventual 5-3 victory.
The Fountain Valley match is one of just four games that remain on Edison's regular-season schedule. The Chargers will host Huntington Beach next Wednesday.
"All we can do is focus on our next game, and that's Fountain Valley," Breneman said. "We can only take it a game at a time. Our goal has been to keep things fresh on the training field. It's all about keeping the kids fresh and motivated. I'd say our biggest issue right now is to stay healthy and play hungry."