The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
The562’s soccer coverage for the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Beach Futbol Club.
The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
It’s been steady improvement for Lakewood boys’ soccer since coach Alex Diaz took over a few years ago, but the Lancers will have to find a new core group of players to count on this season after a dozen seniors graduated.
“This is a young group that’s really hungry to get out there and work,” Diaz said. “I’m really excited to see them play. This group has shown they’re willing to do anything for each other and the program.”
Lakewood beat Cabrillo in the last game of the 2021 season to make the playoffs. Even though most of this season’s Lancers will be first-year starters, they understand what it takes to be competitive in the Moore League.
“We played our style, we kept our shape and matched the intensity,” said Jonathan Alvarez of playing teams like Wilson, Millikan and Poly. “We’ve been practicing hard in the offseason and I think will be solid and can compete against the big teams and have a chance to win the Moore League.”
Alvarez, who scored an important goal in a win over Wilson last season, will be the leader of the defense as he returns for his third year at center back. The senior will be joined on the back line with fellow center back and junior Angelo Funes, who started as a freshman. Junior Diego Perez and senior Joel Bermudez Cadena will fill in the other spots after three years with the program.
In goal, Diego Ortiz played the last six games of last season due to injury, and the sophomore will use that experience this year. He’ll be sharing time with senior Jose Corea to start the season.
“We’ll be pressing high and getting the balls to our attackers to finish our chances,” Alvarez said. We want to play tiki-taka the whole game and we like to come together as a team and treat each other like brothers.”
Most of the new names and faces will be in the midfield for Lakewood, returning junior starter Christian Valcic will run the middle of the field for the Lancers. Junior Jonathan Romero and senior Halmar Carranza will be the key forwards.
“We’re not big and athletic, but a lot of technical guys, so we have to be patient since we don’t get as many chances,” Diaz said. “We have to pick and choose when to go forward. We have to be organized to do that and transition as quickly as we can.”
Diaz thinks his treating sessions are also getting better year to year.
“Having so many young guys also helps practice be more intense because they are so hungry,” Diaz said. “Sometimes we have to slow it down in training because it gets so intense and we don’t want injuries.”
“I like how he is always pushing us trying to get our best potential,” Alvarez said of Diaz.
Diaz added that he thinks a willingness to trust the process and the system he’s implementing will help this new squad improve quickly.
“I think the program has come a long way,” he said. “Last year we were in games and we competed and I think these boys saw that. I asked them when we started training, ‘What did you learn’ and they said that it was about playing and fighting for each other and not giving up on any play.”