Sunnyside’s boys soccer team, which is scheduled to begin its season Dec. 8 with an overhaul of talent from last season, is ranked No. 36 by TopDrawerSoccer.com in its ratings that were released Thursday.
Head coach Casey O’Brien, who will enter his fifth season, is reloading his roster after losing Demille Flores, Adrian Burruel-Valenzuela and Fabian Mendoza to graduation. They combined for 60 goals with Flores and Mendoza topping the team with 21 each.
Goaltender Jonathan De la Paz has also exhausted his eligibility as well as defenders Juan Correa, Daniel Martinez, Hector Arce, Carlos Arias and Anthony Tamayo.
O’Brien has four seniors among his top returners from last season’s 24-2 team that lost in the 5A state title match against Carl Hayden.
They are captain Antonio Muniz, a striker/forward, and midfielder Adolfo Loya, defender Elian Robles and defender/midfielder Marcos Gonzalez.
None of those seniors were starters last season, however.
Jhonny Verdugo, a junior midfielder, is the lone returning starter for O’Brien.
“We are really excited about this year’s group,” O’Brien said. “We are basically starting from scratch … In my opinion, (Verdugo) is one of the absolute best players in Arizona even though he’s only a junior.
“This group is high caliber. They bring in great work habits and are all strong academically which is always nice to work with.”
O’Brien calls Loya a “super talented winger.”
“He creates explosive plays that we’ve fed off in the past.”
The youthfulness of O’Brien’s team has him “excited,” he said. Seven of the players are either sophomores or juniors.
“We have a great group of sophomores that will grow into our next batch of kids that should garner college attention,” O’Brien said. “I’m honestly just excited to spend time with these kids and feel blessed to even have the opportunity to play.
“We will make the most of it and make the southside proud with our work ethic and our relentless pursuit of finding our best form.”
O’Brien is 83-12-5 at Sunnyside with a state title in 2019.
Sunnyside’s 2020-21 roster:
|2||Antonio Munoz (C)||STRK, FORW||Sr.||5-9||140|
|32||Marcos Gonzalez||D, MF||Sr.||6-0||185|
|Angel Lopez||D, MF||Sr.||5-8||145|
|Danny Gallegos||D, MF||Jr.||6-1||160|
|Eddie Loya||MF, D||So.||6-0||150|
|Hansell Urias||D, MF||So.||6-1||155|
|Isaac Ramirez||MF, D||Sr.||5-9||160|
|Jimmy Batega||D, MF||Sr.||5-8||145|
|Luis Jimenez||D, MF||Sr.||5-10||150|
|Miguel Herrera||MF, D||Sr.||5-11||150|
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.