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Soccer St. Anthony

PREVIEW: St. Anthony Boys’ Soccer

There is one very notable difference between last season and this season for St. Anthony boys’ soccer. The Saints actually have home games this season.

St. Anthony traveled for all 19 regular season games last season while the renovations for the new Clark Field and turf were completed. The facility looks amazing, and the Saints are thrilled to have a familiar turf practice ground.

“The boys are super excited, we’ve been talking about it for years, and it feels great,” senior captain Naveed Tate said of having a home field. “Last year took a toll on us, a lot of us were those from those long bus rides. The game at St. Genevieve was a two-hour bus ride. So we’re excited to not have to travel as much.”

Third-year coach Aaron Rodriguez will continue preaching his high-pressure style to a young group of Saints who want to attack transitionally. That has required more walk-though training for the entire team.

“It’s about understanding how and when to press to win the ball and where we can’t give space,” Rodriguez said. “We do a lot of walk-throughs and understanding of the concepts without actually playing.”

When they do play with a full 11 on the field, the Saints will be looking to feed striker Alejandro “AJ” Otriz. The junior is a tall, strong target who showed how well he can hold up play while gettin some serious minutes as a sophomore.

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In order for Rodriguez’ system to work, the Saints will need to be busy in the midfield so they’re going to rely on a larger group that can rotate. Returning juniors Christian Martin and Christian Davila will primarily play the left and right wings, respectively, where they want to showcase their dynamic speed and good shots.

Junior Ian Gutierrez is also back after a good season in the midfield where he’ll be joined by newcomers Elijah Surloff and Troy Novoa. Surloff is a transfer from Servite, and Novoa is one of a handful of freshmen who Rodriguez said will have an impact because his program is only fielding one team this season.

“He can move the ball and is good at organizing the teams so I think he will have a big impact,” Rodriguez added about Surloff.

Tate and fellow senior captain Caleb Haskill are leading from their center back positions where they played together last season. Freshman Cole Thalmets and sophomore Andres Mendoza are tabbed to start at fullback.

Rodriguez is also excited about the arrival of freshman goalkeeper Jason Glenn, who plays for an elite club team with a variety of skills.

“He’s really good with feet so he’s almost like a third center back,” Rodriguez said of Glenn.

“It’s just about having fun and getting a better record than last year,” Tate added. “In the first couple games, if we can score against some good team, the boys will feel like we can accomplish this and it will give us momentum.”

St. Anthony missed the playoffs last year with a 4-12-3 overall record and fifth place finish in the Camino Real League. The Saints reached the CIF-SS Division 7 quarterfinals in Rodriguez’ first season.

Long Beach High School Boys’ Soccer Preview
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.