By Alan der OHANNESSIAN
For the CV Falcons boys varsity soccer team, the season started with a dream of winning the regional championships; however they came up short in the quarterfinal, losing 3-1 to EL Rancho in a tense rainy home match.
The two-time Pacific League champions had never made it to the quarterfinal round before. Last season they lost in the first round to Laguna Hills 5-2. They finished the season with a 15-2-5 record, winning nine of their 10 matches at CVHS.
On the offensive end, the team excelled, beating teams by an average of five goals. The team scored a total of 57 goals in the season with Pavle Atanackovic, their leading scorer, accounting for 56% overall with 32 goals.
“Pavle had an excellent season,” acknowledged head coach Kiel McClung.
The team had a great camaraderie off the field and on, evidenced by the sharing of the ball during matches.
“These guys are all positive toward each other. They are like brothers,” McClung said.
Strong leadership was also demonstrated by the team captain. Alex Berger delivered 14 of the 47 assists over the entire season.
On the defensive end, the team gave up only one goal on average with goalkeeper Nick Ruiz having five shutouts in the season.
“Our team’s attitude to defending from every position on the field is why we were so successful this season,” said McClung. “It’s what led to so many attacking opportunities.”
The coach is already looking ahead to next season and goalie Ruiz’s return. “Ruiz was phenomenal this season in goal and we are very excited to be returning him in goal,” McClung said.
Although they didn’t win the championship, the players were rewarded for their hard work. Forward Atanackovic was voted Pacific League MVP and 1st Team All CIF.
Midfielder and captain Berger, who assisted most of his goals, received 1st Team All Pacific League and Team MVP for CVHS awards. Fellow midfielder Vahe Nalbandian was voted 2nd Team All Pacific League and co-captain Salar Hajimirsadeghi, was voted 1st Team All Pacific League and received the Falcons’ Spirit Award. Ruiz was voted 2nd Team All Pacific.
Most importantly, Berger, Hajimirsadeghi and Atanackovic were the first players in school history to achieve all CIF honors.
The entire team was honored at the ACE Awards, sponsored by the Character & Ethics Project, on Wednesday night as nominees for male team of the year and McClung as coach of the year.
But the pressing question is how next season will shape up as the Falcons will lose key seniors.
“We are losing captain Andrew Reyes, who was a solid role player for us all season,” said McClung. Furthermore, they will lose a 2nd Pacific League player in Nalbandian and a 1st Team defender in Chris Fierro.
However, McClung is looking to his bench – specifically to Timmy Campbell – to make an impact next season. Campbell missed a fair amount of games due to illness but later joined in the playoffs.
Though a young team – CV has only been playing Pacific League soccer for a couple of years – with the strong leadership of McClung, hope is strong that it can build on this year’s successes to win the CIF regional championship next season.