Lean numbers and youthful exuberance will be the earmarks of the Healdsburg High School boys soccer team this year, a season of transition that the Greyhounds hope will be a competitive one on the North Bay League circuit.
Under veteran coach Herbert Lemus, the Hounds were a title contender in the tough NBL Oak Division last year, finishing the season in second place (behind Montgomery) with a 3-3-4 league record and 5-6-6 overall, earning a spot in the North Coast Section playoffs.
Lemus is back for another campaign, optimistic of good days ahead, but realistic in knowing that decreased numbers and a young squad could translate to a season of growth for the program.
“We have a total of 32 players this year, the lowest number ever,” Lemus reported. “The overall skill level is pretty good, so we’re excited about that, but this will be the youngest team that I will have ever coached, which is good for the future.”
The Hounds return a solid core of varsity players which includes seniors forward Miguel Gonzalez, midfielder Adrian Jimenez and defender Christian Pantoja. Other key veterans are junior midfielder Juan Pablo Patino and sophomore Jesus Perez.
Moving up from last year’s JV squad are junior defender Julian Bermejo and sophomore forward Sebastian Rodriguez. Adding an infusion of youth are talented freshmen; defender Jose Reyes, midfielder Edgar Campos and forwards Angel Manrique and Francisco Mendoza.
Although the rosters have not been finalized, the JV and varsity teams should consist of about 16 players each.
“Some of the kids are still playing club soccer and are not available yet, but they are part of the 32 players that we’ll choose from,” Lemus noted. “We have games coming up which will be a combination of varsity and JV players to get us through the first couple of games.”
Healdsburg will open the 2019-20 schedule on Nov. 26 (after press time) at Cardinal Newman, followed by a home clash with Roseland University Prep on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m.