NBL boys soccer preview: League crown is ripe for the taking

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Casa Grande’s Noah Wilson, left, was an all-league selection last season. Wilson is one of three experienced players returning to the Gauchos. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Casa Grande’s Noah Wilson, left, was an all-league selection last season. Wilson is one of three experienced players returning to the Gauchos. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Play in the North Bay League begins in two weeks and at this point, the team to beat is anyone’s guess.

Montgomery, North Coast Section Division champs in 2010-11 and third in the league last season, appears to have a slight edge, but coach Jonathan Schwann isn’t feeling overconfident.

“I’m done trying to predict what high school kids will do,” he said with a laugh.

Schwann does concede he has high expectations.

“I think we’ll have a strong team with a good balance of skills,” he said.

A player he’s counting on to lead the Vikings is senior Julio Chavez, a member of the NCS championship teams.

“Chavez has stepped into the role of team leader,” Schwann said of the center midfielder.

“He got the taste of winning NCS titles as an underclassman and now he wants to go out with one more. He’s hungry.”

The scorers for Montgomery figure to be sophomore Oscar Soto and junior Evan Martinez.

Martinez has scored five goals in his team’s first two games of the season (wins over Piner and Elsie Allen).

“He’s a big-time player,” Schwann said of Martinez. “We’re looking for him to keep on scoring for us once league starts.”

Soto will likely lead the Vikings in assists.

“He’s an excellent one-on-one player,” the coach said. “If we can get the ball to him, he’ll set other players up.”

Helping defend with Chavez will be Martin Macias.

“He’s the calmest, smoothest center back I’ve seen at this level in a few years,” Schwann said. “We know we can count on him to defend.

“The league figures to be balanced but we’re in a great spot,” Schwann said. “Things are coming together.”

Maria Carrillo took the NBL title last year and didn’t lose a league match. However, the Pumas were hit hard by graduation and started this season with losses to Terra Linda and Redwood.

“We’re going through growing pains,” coach Mike Masdin said. “We’re pretty young, a lot of new players. When we improve on a couple of things, we’ll do OK in league.”

The two best players on the squad are Cesar Farias and Clay Von Buehler.

Casa Grande finished second to Carrillo in league play last year and looks set to contend for the top spot.

“I’m quietly confident we might have a good season,” coach Lee Summerscales said. “A lot depends if we can stay injury free.”

The Gauchos will be led by three experienced players.

Noah Wilson was an all-NBL selection in 2012, midfielder Paco Villegas is back for his fourth varsity season, and Sam Falkenberg will be in goal for the third year.

Casa is unbeaten in preleague with identical 2-1 victories over Terra Linda and Petaluma.

“The defense was good in both those games,” Summerscales said. “I’m confident we’ll be able to score.”

The Gauchos will be starting their second year as members of the NBL after moving over from the SCL.

“One thing I saw in the league games last year is that every team is capable of winning,” Summerscales said. “The team that can stay consistent will be the team that wins the title this season.”

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