Team speed could pay dividends in the 2013-14 season for the Laguna Beach High boys' soccer team.
Coach Dan Richards' squad features a youthful lineup but includes talent down the roster. The Breakers open their campaign next week with three nonleague games, starting with a 4:45 p.m. home game Monday against St. Margaret's.
A challenging nonleague schedule continues through the first week of January, and Laguna begins its 10-game Orange Coast League schedule Jan. 15.
"This year's team is very young with us carrying more sophomores than seniors," Richards said. "We have a lot of speed throughout the squad along with some very talented players in key positions.
"We know that the Orange Coast League is always very competitive and we will need our returning players to really step it up to have a positive influence on our results. The senior and more experienced players must lead the team forward while integrating the new players."
Head coach: Dan Richards (fourth year)
Coaching staff: Franz Guldner (JV coach); Jose Sanchez (Frosh/soph coach); Dan Harrison; Ben Helm; Matt Turnball.
Last year's records: 9-5-3 overall; 4-4-2 league (fourth)
2013 CIF results: Reached Division 5 playoff wild-card round.
Returning varsity players: Zach Finkelstein, defender, Jr.; *Harrison Gregory, Midfield, Jr.; Tobie Grierson, MF, Jr.; *Jake Hexberg, Forward, Sr.; *Zach Jacobs, MF, Jr.; Jacob Kunkel, MF/DEF., Sr.; Noah Radach, DEF., Sr.; *Rory Saunders, DEF., Sr.; *Chris Tellez, F, Sr. (first-team all-league); *Willy Wheeler, F, Jr.; Eddie Willette, MF/F, Soph. (*denotes returning starter).
Varsity newcomers: Dante Amodeo, GK, Soph.; Bobby Briggs, MF, Soph.; Logan Eastman, MF, Soph.; Ben Kieswetter, DEF., Soph.; Tommy Ressler, F, Jr.; Charlie Warner, DEF/F, Soph.
Coach's take: "Our success this year will be dependent on the team coming together and really working hard for each other," Richards said. "In order for us to compete with the teams in the Orange Coast League, we must be very organized and stay focused throughout the games."
The schedule: "We have put together a very comprehensive nonleague schedule to really test our squad, playing against big D1 schools while also competing against schools that will be similar to those we face in league," Richards said. "The high school season always comes and goes very quickly and we must get the team playing together quickly. We have stacked a lot of games near the beginning of our schedule so the players can get on the same page early and learn each other tendencies, strengths and weaknesses while also testing the depth of our roster."
Season opener: Monday, 4:45 p.m., home vs. St. Margaret's.
Monday: St. Margaret's, 4:45 p.m.
Wednesday: at Irvine, 5 p.m.
Dec. 6: Crean Lutheran, 4:45 p.m.
Dec. 9: Northwood, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 11: Trabuco Hills, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 13: Tesoro, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 16: at Dana Hills, 6 p.m.
Dec. 18: at Aliso Niguel, 5 p.m.
Dec. 20: at Santiago, 3 p.m.
Jan. 8: Saddleback Valley Christian, 5 p.m.
Jan. 15: at *Saddleback, 3:15 p.m.
Jan. 17: *Estancia, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 22: vs. *Calvary Chapel (3:15 p.m., Centennial Park)
Jan. 24: vs. *Godinez (3:15 p.m., Centennial Park)
Jan. 29: *Costa Mesa, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 31: at *Estancia, 5 p.m.
Feb. 5: *Saddleback, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 7: *Godinez, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 11: *Calvary Chapel, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 13: vs. *Costa Mesa (5 p.m., Estancia High)