A year removed from a forfeited league title and 10 vacated wins, the San Luis Obispo High School boys soccer team is on the verge of bringing home the inaugural Mountain League title and is the No. 7-ranked team in California, according to MaxPreps.com.
The Tigers are 18-1-1 overall and 8-1 in league play — the lone loss coming to Santa Maria, which is a game behind SLO High in the league standings and ranked No. 16 in the state.
Branden Dolezal, a UC Santa Barbara commit and two-time Tribune County Player of the Year, has 21 goals in 16 games. The senior scored a school-record 25 goals in 22 games as a junior.
SLO High will get a shot at redemption against Santa Maria, which was in a different league last season, in the teams’ league finale to decide the championship at 6 p.m. Thursday at SLO.
Sitting behind the Tigers and the Saints is Arroyo Grande (18-4-1, 7-3), which beat Santa Maria 4-3 in overtime Jan. 29.
All three teams are likely headed to the CIF-Central Section playoffs next week.
Templeton, Atascadero fight for Ocean League
Templeton (15-8, 9-2) leads the Ocean League after winning five straight, including a 1-0 victory over second-place Atascadero on Jan. 18.
Atascadero (11-13-2, 8-3) trails Templeton by one game after a challenging regular season schedule that featured games against San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande. The Greyhounds struggled last year to a 2-14 record in the talented PAC 8 and are benefiting from the switch to the Ocean League.
Nipomo (10-18, 7-5), Morro Bay (11-14-1, 7-5) and St. Joseph (9-10-2, 6-6) are all fighting for third place and possible playoff berths.
SLO High girls champs again
San Luis Obispo (18-2-1 overall) captured the first Mountain League title with an 11-1 record, its fourth straight league championship, culminated by a shootout win over rival Arroyo Grande on Friday.
Arroyo Grande beat SLO High 2-1 in overtime during their first meeting, the Tigers’ only setback in the league schedule. SLO High is ranked No. 38 in the state according to MaxPreps.com, followed by Arroyo Grande (No. 93).
The Tigers won their third straight PAC 8 title last season and reached the first CIF-Southern Section division final in school history, in addition to reaching the regional semifinal in the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs.
Arroyo Grande (17-6, 8-3) has been propelled by the play of senior Molly Autio, who scored each of the goals in its win over SLO High. The Tribune first-team all-county selection will look to help Arroyo Grande to a better showing in the playoffs than last season’s first-round exit.
Atascadero (14-5-4, 8-3) is tied with Arroyo Grande thanks to a late-season surge; the two teams meet in their season finale at 4 p.m. Thursday in Atascadero.
Upstart Templeton girls
Templeton (14-4-2, 7-1) controls its own fate and whether it wins the inaugural Ocean League title with its next two games.
The Eagles lead Orcutt Academy (20-2-4, 7-2) and Santa Maria (11-9-2, 7-3). If Templeton beats last-place Mission Prep on Thursday (6 p.m. at St. Joseph High School) and then Orcutt Academy at home Friday (6 p.m.), the league title will belong to the Eagles.
Templeton was undefeated in league play until a 1-0 loss to Orcutt Academy on Jan. 29.
Sophomore Marren Grindley has been instrumental for the surging Eagles, with 14 goals and eight assists in 20 games this season. Siena Sagely and Emily Puita, also sophomores, have added a combined 11 goals and 13 assists.