Lakewood Soccer

Boys’ Soccer Preview: Lakewood Lancers

This is the season Lakewood boys’ soccer has been waiting for, and it will involve even more waiting.
Coach Alex Diaz is in his fifth year at the helm and has a roster full of experienced upperclassmen who have grown up in his program.

“It’s just about us believing in ourselves and not being afraid of the big games,” Diaz said. “Our style has worked for us the last couple of years so we have to match the intensity of the Millikan, Wilson and Poly teams. They have special players who can break us down so we have to stay disciplined.”

It looked like this season of buildup would conclude on the new turf field at Lakewood High, but that has been delayed and the Lancers don’t know when they’ll be able to play a home game. They’ve been forced to hold training sessions at nearby Heartwell Park because there’s not enough space available on campus.

“We’re hoping and praying but we’ll see,” Diaz said. “We’re just trying to be patient.”

Diaz likes his team’s chances of challenging for a playoff spot in the Moore League because the players have the ability to run his system. Lakewood wants to maintain as much possession as possible while being patient with the ball.

“We want to be really organized defensively,” Diaz said. “When we do get the ball we need to be patient and finish the chances we get.”

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The first step in staying organized defensively is finding a viable replacement for Co-Goalkeeper of the Year Lewis Blanton, who graduated in June. Diaz said he’s got a decision between junior Jose Corea and freshman Diego Ortiz, and that both could see time in goal.

Lakewood’s defense will be anchored by senior Pedro Funes, who has grown a lot over the last four years under Diaz. His brother, Angelo Funes, is a sophomore and will play the other center back position. Junior Jonathon Alvarez and sophomore Diego Perez will be the right and left backs, respectively.

The Lancers midfield will be led by a handful of capable upperclassmen in Anthony Raya, Jose Jimenez, Santiago Sandoval (pictured) and more.

Lakewood will rely on forwards Alberto Munoz and Jonathan Romero. Munoz is a senior and Romero is a sophomore who started last year. Diaz said Romero’s work ethic has earned him a chance to start this season.

“They’ve just put themselves in the position to earn their respect,” Diaz said of his veteran heavy team. “I told them they have to compete with the big dogs to get that. It’s about hunger and the fight. Our games are closer now. If we lose it’s a fight. They give it all they have. It’s nice and exciting to have that kind of group.”

Lakewood hasn’t won the league since sharing it with Wilson in 1989. The Lancers also haven’t won a non-wild card CIF playoff game in more than a decade.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.
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