IRVINE — In December, the Corona del Mar High boys' soccer team agreed the New Year would be the start of its season.
Forget that last month the Sea Kings played eight matches. During the stretch, CdM produced little success, just one win.
In seven of those contests, the Sea Kings led.
The first chance in their new season, the Sea Kings jumped out to a lead and kept it. The matches from now on are vital to CdM, which opened Pacific Coast League play with a 5-1 road victory against Northwood on Wednesday.
In the first 10 minutes, CdM recorded three goals, more than it scored in any of its other matches. The start was the one Coach George Larsen wanted to see.
"Given the fact that they didn't have a lot of success in terms of wins in the preseason, they were really looking forward to starting with a clean slate in the meaningful games," said Larsen, who before the season lost five standouts to Academy teams. "That excitement produced goals early in the game. It was a dream start from that standpoint to come out and get some early goals, and help get some confidence out there."
Max Premer began the Sea Kings' flurry of goals, scoring three minutes in.
Connor Roche, a junior who has led the Sea Kings' attack in the first eight matches, continued to find the back of the net. The junior striker scored back-to-back goals.
On the second goal, Premer recorded the assist. Just like that CdM took a 3-0 lead before fans settled in at Meadowood Park.
Matt Francini put away a rebound to put the Sea Kings ahead, 4-0. The goal total in the first half against Northwood was more than CdM scored in three matches at the South Orange County Classic last week.
Yes, the Sea Kings (2-5-2, 1-0-0 in league) faced tougher competition during the tournament, playing the likes of JSerra, El Toro, ranked No. 3 and No. 9, respectively, in the CIF Southern Section Division I poll, and Mission Viejo.
The Sea Kings' play during the tournament gave them confidence. They collected a 1-1 tie against host Mission Viejo, which reached the tournament title match.
The one match that Larsen was most impressed with was a 3-2 loss to El Toro. The Sea Kings trailed, 3-0, at halftime.
"The way we came out [in the second half] and didn't put our head down … showed that this was important for them," Larsen said. "We really came out and got back two goals, and almost got back and tied that game.
"Regardless of our record, I don't think there's … a single game that we've played this year where we didn't think we could've won."
Larsen said CdM just needed to improve defensively. Finding the right pieces in the back took some time, but the Sea Kings looked strong against Northwood.
Goalkeeper Armon Alaghband made a handful of saves against a relatively young Northwood side. The Timberwolves (2-6-2, 0-1-0) actually entered the league opener with one more win than CdM.
It didn't take long for Northwood Coach Josh Brooks to figure out that the Sea Kings were still the superior team, even though they lost a lot of talent from last season's team, which finished second in league and advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.
"You could tell their five academy kids that they missed ... made a big difference," Brooks said. "Fortunately for us, they're not playing. It could've been a lot worse than with what the scoring line is really showing."