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High School

City Section Division I soccer playoffs will be competitive as always

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Noel Ortega has 22 goals for top-seeded Birmingham.
(Eric Sondheimer)

The City Section Division I soccer playoffs begin with first-round games on Monday, and there might not be a better 16-team tournament from top to bottom in the City Section.

Birmingham is seeded No. 1 and plays host to Poly, but don’t bet the house that the Patriots are going to cruise through the playoffs. Seedings hardly matter in a tournament that has proven through the years that underdogs can triumph.

Birmingham has risen to the top this season helped by the decision of Noel Ortega to return to playing high school soccer. He was playing in the USA Soccer Academy League, then decided to rejoin his high school friends. He has scored 22 goals and is headed to Cornell.

El Camino Real is seeded No. 2 and owns a win over Birmingham. The Conquistadores open against West Valley League rival Taft at home. Their leading scorer, Joshua Young, also returned from playing in the Academy League. He has 11 goals.

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The most competitive opener figures to be No. 9 Marquez playing at No. 8 Locke. The winner will face the winner of Birmingham-Poly in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Here’s the link to complete matchups.

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