Braves start season on high hopes, chasing repeat state title

0
15
WEBfight_17.jpg

Two years ago, the El Cajon Valley Braves’ boys soccer team made school history by winning the San Diego Section Division V CIF championship and then going on to claim the state title.

For a team made up largely of underclassman, many of whom were immigrants and refugees, attending a high school not normally recognized for its sports prowess, the victory was a monumental one.

Now, six of the sophomores who played to bring home the state championship are playing as seniors and their goal remains unchanged: win state.

Two years ago, the El Cajon Valley Braves’ boys soccer team made school history by winning the San Diego Section Division V CIF championship and then going on to claim the state title.

For a team made up largely of underclassman, many of whom were immigrants and refugees, attending a high school not normally recognized for its sports prowess, the victory was a monumental one.

Now, six of the sophomores who played to bring home the state championship are playing as seniors and their goal remains unchanged: win state.

“We want to win everything this year since it’s our last year,” said Angel Delgadillo, senior and co-captain of the Braves. “We train every day, we train hard. Our subs and our starters, we all come out here and compete everyday.”

Although the Braves began their season with a 4-1 loss at Hoover on Nov. 15, they rebounded in front of the home crowd, snatching a 2-0 victory over Christian High School at home on Nov. 28.

“It feels good. It’s our first game home and we won,” said senior Dani Arabo.

Arabo and Delgadillo both scored in their home win and both are returners from the 2017 team.

The season may be young, but Arabo is confident that they can end it with another ring.

“Why not? We have a good team, we have good players, we’re in good shape. We can do anything.”

Head coach Antonio Lavenant is more cautious in declaring an early victory, but shares the hopes of his team that the Braves will have a great season.

“Having all the guys back after their club season is done, I have all my number one guys back and they’re on the field now, a couple guys who didn’t play last year are back,” he said. “We took some hits last year and had to learn the hard way. They were juniors and now they’re seniors. We’ve had to refocus and we’re trying to chase big things now.”

Lavenant is on his third year with the Braves and his willingness to let underclassman play is partly responsible for the winning team they had in 2017 and is perhaps why his now-seniors have so much respect for him.

Two years ago, the team lauded him for getting them to play together, play passes, play for the team and not for the glory.

Now that they can play as a team, they appreciate his investment.

“He knows us,” said Arabo emphatically. “He’s a smart coach. I like him.”

Lavenant said he recognizes the potential this season has to be something extraordinary.

“It’s very special to me because these guys have been in the program two or three seasons with me and they’re seniors and this is the first time I’ve had this many seniors on the team and this is their last opportunity to get another title, to try to get another ring,” he said. “It’s one of those things that, it’s so special to them that it’s become so special to me. And I think they understand that and it’s because of those things that we’re able to trust each other and care for each other and play for each other. And that’s what it comes down to: teamwork and a great group of kids and great attitudes.”

The Braves have four more weeks of preseason before they dive into conference play with a home game against Mount Miguel on Jan. 9, 2019.

Lavenant said there is definitely excitement in the air.

“They’re all chasing the same thing now again and it has that buzz of two years ago, that’s why it’s becoming so special this year.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here