SBCC men’s soccer looks to follow up on stellar season

Last year, SBCC had a magical run in men’s soccer that ended with a third-place finish in the State Championships. Sixth-year head coach John Sisterson says the 2012 group is just as talented.

“We don’t have a lot of guys back but we’ve looked like a talented bunch in practice,” said Sisterson, whose team went 18-2-4 last year and captured its third WSC title in four years. “This is a new team and they’re adapting well.”

The Vaqueros (0-1) make their home debut on Friday against Pasadena at 2 p.m. in La Playa Stadium. SBCC was 10-1-2 at home last year and is 26-2-4 in its last 32 home contests.

Santa Monica has been added to the Western State Conference, which means the Vaqueros will play a 16-game conference schedule for the first time. They open WSC play on Sept. 11 at Hancock.

Tony Mendoza, a sophomore from Dos Pueblos High, is the only returning starter. He’s battling another DP product, Ismael Guzman, for the starting job at goalkeeper.

Three starters are back from the 2010 Vaquero squad — forward Chijioke Aranotu and midfielders Justin Saul and Juan Sanchez. Aranotu scored a 40-yard goal in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss at L.A. Harbor.

“Chijioke has a great attitude and he’s going to be a leader on our frontline,” said Sisterson.

Freshman Vicente Perez, a defender from Dos Pueblos High, is a top newcomer along with a pair of midfielders from England — Daniel Loveday and Adam Colton — who‘ve looked strong in practice. Sammba Sowe and Ebrima Njie, a pair of freshmen forwards, have “clicked well” in practice. “They’re both from Gambia and they grew up in Sweden,” Sisterson noted. “They’re very athletic.”

Sisterson also likes the play of Ricky Lopez, a defender from San Marcos High.

“We have lots of international players, so we’re trying to blend them into the same style,” said Sisterson, last year‘s NSCAA West Region Coach of the Year. “We’ll be able to score goals going forward. We have two good goalkeepers and great all-around depth.

“If we take every game as it comes and focus on winning that game, then we’re going to go a long way. We’re looking to win the conference and go further in the State Championship.”