Spartans hoping for repeat performance

Coach Barry Ritson said the La Cañada High boys' soccer team will remain on the attack this season. There will only one difference from last season.

"La Cañada should be scoring more goals this year," said Ritson, who is beginning his second year as the program's coach.

Although Ritson still describes himself as "brand new," he's known most of La Cañada's players since they were 13 or 14. Most of them have come up through the Los Angeles Futbol Club system, where Ritson is the assistant director of coaching.

The Spartans were defined by their ability to outscore teams in Ritson's inaugural season. The team ran a 4-3-3 formation, bringing the fullbacks up to join the offensive attack.

"We'll play exactly the same way," Ritson said. "First of all, I like to play that way, and the kids I've got coming back and the kids that are coming in just suit that system."

La Cañada enters the season as the third-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division V. Last year, the Spartans went 10-0 in Rio Hondo League play to capture the league title. The team's season ended in the quarterfinals of the Division V playoffs when it lost to Salesian, 1-0, in overtime.

"We're expecting to match last year with a hope of going into the semis or finals of CIF — that's our aim," Ritson said.

There are five seniors on hand to ensure the Spartans don't miss a step.

Midfielders Matt Cannatta, an All-Area standout, and Arash Mahboubi are both returning for their final seasons. Mahboubi is Ritson's early pick for All-Area player of the year. He excelled against some of the country's best players on his Los Angeles Futbol Club premiere team.

Brian Blumenfeld, senior midfielder and newcomer to Spartan soccer, will be joining Cannatta and Mahboubi at midfield. Blumenfeld has never competed for La Cañada, but his reputation precedes him as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy's soccer academy.

All three of these players make up the Spartan's strength — their midfield attack.

"We have a lot of weapons in there that should be scoring a lot of goals this year," Ritson said.

Seniors goalkeeper Jack Hale and defender Randy Gartside are also returning to anchor La Cañada's defense.

"Personnel wise, we're very strong. It's just going to be a case of how quick can we get these kids all on the same page," Ritson said. "A lot of them have played in soccer leagues together for years, so chemistry is not an issue."

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