Village News Reporter
A 2-1 home loss Jan. 17 against Rancho Bernardo gave Fallbrook High School’s boys soccer team an overall season record of 5-7-1 including 0-3 in Palomar League play.
“I think the boys are doing the best they can,” said Fallbrook coach Jorge Rojas. “It’s definitely a new varsity team, so there are a ton of challenges.”
Only two starters and six players altogether return from Fallbrook’s 2022-23 team whose 12-8-5 overall record includes a 5-4-1 mark against Palomar League opposition, a first-round CIF Division II playoffs win, and a quarterfinals loss. The current 19-player varsity consists of 12 seniors, three juniors, two sophomores, and two freshmen.
“They’re trying to learn our methodology system of play,” Rojas said. “It’s a three-month season. We can’t teach everything and they can’t learn everything within the span of three months.”
The Warriors began 2023-24 play with a 2-0 loss Dec. 1 at Escondido, a 3-1 loss Dec. 8 at Great Oak, and a 2-0 loss Dec. 14 at Vista. The Warriors’ first home game Dec. 16 against El Camino was also Fallbrook’s first victory of the season and had a 3-0 score.
Freshman goalkeeper Judd Van Alfen made five saves during the shutout while seniors Hilario Renteria and Paul Reyes scored goals. Fallbrook’s Dec. 18 game at San Marcos ended as a 1-1 tie with the Knights holding a 1-0 halftime lead and senior Jose Rivera tying the score in the second half. Oceanside won a 2-0 match Dec. 22 in Fallbrook.
Fallbrook preceded league play with a four-game winning streak. The first three victories were during the SoCal High School Classic tournament and provided the Warriors with their first championship in that tournament since 2019. Both goals in the Warriors’ 2-1 win Dec. 27 over Pittman High School of Turlock were scored by senior Zach Dickey. Renteria had the goal in Fallbrook’s 1-0 victory Dec. 28 against Mission Vista with Van Alfen making six saves. Dickey and Rivera each had a goal Dec. 29 when the Warriors won a 2-1 match against Rancho Buena Vista.
Rojas noted that approximately 70% of the Warriors’ goals this season have been on set plays. “The boys have been doing their best. They’re working hard. They do their best to learn what we have on the chalkboard,” he said. “They continue to refine, and it shows on game day.”
A 2-0 home win Jan. 3 against Montgomery closed out Fallbrook’s pre-league competition. The goals were scored by senior Xavier Gonzalez and junior Manuel Melendez. Van Alfen and sophomore Manuel Garcia each played one half in the nets with Van Alfen saving four shots and Garcia making three saves.
Palomar League play began Jan. 10. Fallbrook’s home game against Westview that evening had a 1-1 halftime score before the Wolverines obtained a 3-2 victory. The Fallbrook goals were scored by senior Daniel Zuniga and junior Jeremy Perez. The Warriors’ Jan. 12 game at San Pasqual ended as a 5-0 Golden Eagles triumph.
Rancho Bernardo scored in the 28th and 37th minutes Jan. 17 for a 2-0 halftime lead. In the 63rd minute Gonzalez placed a shot into the right side of the net. The Warriors had subsequent opportunities but were unable to score the equalizer.
“We should see more productive results as the season progresses,” Rojas said.
Rojas and his players are also seeking to improve the Warriors’ performance in future seasons by visiting Fallbrook’s elementary schools. “We’re just making sure that these guys are also reaching out to the community and giving back to the little ones,” he said. “I’m just extremely pleased with this group.”