2023 NewsTribune boys soccer preview capsules

Mendota looking for fourth consecutive regional title

Members of the Mendota boys soccer team celebrate after scoring a goal against Peoria Christian in the Class 1A Sectional semifinal match on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022 in Mendota.

La Salle-Peru

Coach: David Spudic

Last year’s record: 12-8-2

Top returners: Brayan Gonzalez, sr, F/MF; Giovanni Garcia, sr., F; Rylee Hernandez, sr., D; Antonio Martinez, sr., F/MF; Adrian Gonzalez, so., D

Key newcomers: Ismael Mejia, fr., MF; Jacob Gross, jr., GS

Worth noting: The Cavaliers return a strong core of veterans with Brayan Gonzalez (20 goals, 21 assists in his varsity career), Garcia (21 goals, 5 assists in his career) and Martinez (11 goals, 16 assists in his career), who will be offensive threats at forward and/or center midfielder, while Hernanez and Adrian Gonzalez are back to anchor the defense. “The team consists of many juniors and seniors who have been playing well together over the past several years,” Spudic said. “Everyone is hungry to create the best, most competitive team we can make.” With the experienced players combined with newcomers like Mejia and Gross, the Cavaliers have high hopes for the 2023 season. “The team’s goal is to win a regional this year,” Spudic said. “Our expectation is to have another winning record.” The Cavs lost Seth Adams (14 goals, 4 assists in 2022), as he decided to focus on football this fall after playing both football and soccer last year.


Coach: Marin Moreno

Last year’s record: 9-12-3

Top returners: Fransico Moreno, sr., F; Osvaldo Morales, jr., MF; Juan Raya, jr. GK; Nathan Harrison, sr., D; Juan Rigoberto, jr. F; Gabriel Cano, so., MF; Noah Mzoughi, sr., D

Key newcomers: Bobby Rios, fr., F

Worth noting: The Little Giants are very experienced after losing only three starters from last year’s team. Moreno is expected to once again be the team’s offensive leader after recording 22 goals last season, while Morales had 10 goals as a center midfielder last fall. Harrison and Mzoughi will lead the defense in front of Raya for DePue-Hall. “The strengths of this year’s team are we are going to work hard and fix mistakes,” Martin Moreno said.


Coach: Nick Myers

Last year’s record: 19-7

Top returners: Izaiah Nanez, sr., D; Kaleb Kleckner, sr., D; Johan Cortez, so., MF; David Casas, jr., MF; Mauricio Martinez, jr., D

Key newcomers: Sebastian Carols, so., F; Ramiro Polacios, so., MF; Ceasar Cases, fr., F; Issac Diaz, fr., F; Mateo Goy, so., GK

Worth noting: The Trojans return a strong core of players from last year’s team that won 19 games and claimed the program’s third consecutive regional title before losing in the sectional final. Nanez, a three-year starter, is moving to center back this season to anchor the defense. Kleckner and Martinez, who Myers called “basically a shutdown defender last season,” also return on defense. Cortez played on the wing last season, scoring 21 goals, but this year will be the team’s center attacking midfielder. Casas also will be a key player in the center midfield. The Trojans have some players stepping into larger roles after seeing some time last year: Carols, who remains on the wing, and Polacios, who will start at center midfielder. Cases and Diaz are freshmen Myers said are ready for varsity soccer, while Goy, who Myers said “has really improved since last season,” takes over in the net. “Our strength this year will be our tremendous team speed on the field,” Myers said. “Have a hard time believing another team will be as quick and fast as we are. Team chemistry is also going to be a strength, even though we are really young. Our guys have been playing together in leagues and club soccer since they were little kids.” Myers said the Trojans hope to win the Three Rivers Conference for the third season in a row, win a third straight title at the Oregon tournament and bring home the program’s fourth consecutive regional championship. “Another goal is to hopefully watch this young team grow and get better each day so we are playing our best soccer come playoff time,” Myers said.


Coach: David Gray

Last year’s record: 3-21-1

Top returners: Chase Sims, jr., MF; Asa Gartin, jr., MF; Michael Smith, sr., D

Worth noting: The Tigers have increased numbers this season, with 23 in the program. “One important thing is we have a number of new players,” Gray said. “Our numbers have bounced back, and this season we will have 23 players. This in itself should help translate to more success. … I think the strength of the team is that the guys want to be here. They want to play, and they put forth the effort everyday. We have so many new players that it is difficult to say what we will look like on the field, but the boys have been working hard and have great attitudes.” Gray said the Tigers won’t have one go-to scorer, but will instead rely on a number of different players to score. “I think our goals are to improve throughout the season and try to be at our best come playoff time,” Gray said. “A more tangible goal would be to increase our number of wins from last season.”


Coach: Jay Bann

Last year’s record: 14-7

Top returners: Griffin Cook, sr., MF; Carlos Gonzalez, sr., MF; Ryan Browder, sr., D/MF; Trenton Fruit, sr., F; Easton Fruit, jr., MF/D; Grady Harp, jr., D; Isaac Vazquez, so., MF; Michael Clemens, jr., MF/D; Scott Brandt, so., D/MF; C.J. Fuller, jr., D

Key newcomers: Adam Waite, jr., GK; Landen Tirevold, so., GK

Worth noting: Former Earlville all-state player Bann, who played at Bradley University, takes over at his alma mater. He takes over an experienced roster despite the Red Raiders losing leading scorer Diego Vazquez and goalkeeper Garrett Cook. Earlville brings back a pair of All-Little Ten Conference players in Griffin Cook (21 goals, 21 assists in 2022) and Carlos Gonzalez, who play attacking center midfielder and defensive center midfielder, respectively. Browder and Harp will anchor the defense, brothers Trenton and Easton Fruit will play up front, and the 6-foot-7 Waite steps in at goalkeeper.