DV soccer

The high school soccer teams have been squeezed together like a bunch of sardines and it is leaving a bad aftertaste for a lot of the coaches.

The scheduling has changed in that teams have to play some opponents twice, but not necessarily always within the section that helps determine if they make it to the postseason.

And it comes in a year when it could prove to be the most difficult time to make the playoffs as the number of classifications is narrowed from  five to three.

Instead of having to be better than about 30 teams to make the 16-team field, each division will have about 55 programs.

"Only thing you can do is to play the teams that are in front of you," Mountain Pointe coach Bryan Sabato said. "I have to question why they went to this system when the past (system) seemed to be working."

The reasoning behind the schedule is a state-wide effort to cut down on the amount of travel across every sport.

"The AIA has its head in the sand sometimes when it comes to these things," Desert Vista coach Mike Rabasca said. "It all sounds good in the board room, but I don't think they pay attention to ancillary sports as much as they probably should.

"I don't know that AIA should be in the business of promoting soccer. They sure don't help at all."

Enough about the logistics of the season.

The field play has to be taken care of before any of that comes into play.

The Pride made the postseason, losing in the quarterfinals to Kofa, but have to find a new identity after losing about a dozen seniors from last year's squad.

Sabato said the preseason, if he allowed himself to be not so critical, went fine but knows there will definitely be some growing into roles to start the season, which got under way Tuesday with a 2-0 loss to Desert Vista in overtime.

"We have a completely new back line," he said. "We have four new guys to hold it down and as an overly critical coach I haven't seen the progress that I want. We have gotten better every day and that is all that I can ask."

Sabato said he expects the team to be a little more proficient when Mountain Pointe is pushing the ball offensively.

"I think we are good enough going forward to score some goals," he said. "We'll be stronger going forward. It's not to say we don't have some work to do, or I am not concerned about some things going forward."

The Pride have seven seniors on the roster, with five of them mostly likely in the starting lineup.

The goalkeeper is senior Omar Molina, while senior midfielders Pejas Narkhede and Alex Delgiorno will be counted on as well. Sophomore Danny Meyer will also have a shot at being a top player for the Pride.

Desert Vista is also coming off a season that ended in the quarterfinals, and will have a young roster.

There are six seniors on the roster and only three of those were with the team last season. A handful of juniors blend with nearly a large sophomore class that will work in with the varsity and junior varsity classes.

"It's a young team," Rabasca said. "The talent is there, but the high school game is very physical and we are a very young team."

The top three players for the Thunder are senior captain Cesar Sandoval, a midfielder, senior forward Jack Collier and senior defender Sean McDowell.

Horizon Honors, which is in Division III, Section II, finished 16th in the power rankings last year, but didn't make the postseason because a region winner outside of the top 16 bumped them as an automatic qualifier.

It only make the Eagles more determined this year as senior Shota Austin, sophomore Jordan Mattouk, and sophomore Kole Powell lead the way.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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