Other teams are starting to be quite aware of Mission Prep boys soccer, and they’d each love to be the one to hand the Royals their first loss. Mission Prep, at the halfway point of the regular season, is 11-0 a year after going 12-9-1.
“We’re aware we’re 11-0, and so are other people,” second-year Royals coach Bob Galarneau said. “You start getting that spotlight on you.”
The unblemished record has included victories over schools with much larger enrollments, including local programs such as St. Joseph (by a score of 9-0), Templeton (6-1), Paso Robles (3-1) and Cabrillo (2-1).
“We don’t boast about it,” Galarneau said of the relative giant-slayer résumé. “But it is something we feel pride in. We’re a really small school, but with what we bring to the table, I think teams out there know we have a good program.
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“They kind of get a sense of what they’re getting when we show up,” Galarneau added.
During Galarneau’s inaugural season, the Royals eventually found their groove and made a run to the CIF-Central Section Division V semifinals, where they fell to Lindsay, 4-1.
“I did expect good things from this team,” said Galarneau, who brought in a background as an assistant coach for the Cal Poly women’s team. “We gathered before tryouts started and talked about our potential. By the end of last season, we were just starting to get the plan implemented and connect with the players. We were kind of on the rise.”
In December, the Royals, who don’t play in a league, won the Silver Division “A” bracket championship at the loaded Garces Holiday Soccer Festival.
Their offensive attack has been led by a trio of free-kick specialists in Aryan Eslambolipour, Patrick Foran and Neal Hetzel. Eslambolipour, whose 13 goals rank fifth in the Central Section, has 36 points on the year. Eslambolipour’s and Foran’s 10 assists are second in the section, while Foran has added 11 goals for 32 points. Hetzel isn’t far behind at eight scores and six assists for 22 points.
“Those three guys are the push up top,” Galarneau said. “They actually challenge each other to play at a high level, and they know how to read each other.”
Defensively, the Royals, who utilize a flat-back four, have surrendered a mere five goals all season. With co-captains Brian McAllen and John Sansone protecting him, goalkeeper Joey Miller is seventh in the section with 5.7 saves per contest.
Mission Prep will next host Midland of Los Olivos at 4 p.m. Wednesday. A cross-town rivalry date at San Luis Obispo looms Jan. 22.
CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION RANKINGSThe Arroyo Grande girls water polo team was No. 1 in the CIF-Southern Section Division IV preseason poll, and the Eagles stayed there Monday when the section released its first regular-season rankings of the year.
The Eagles (14-1), in pursuit of their third straight divisional championship, topped second-ranked Rio Mesa 5-4 this past week at their own Arroyo Grande Winter Classic tournament.
Boys basketball: Arroyo Grande is No. 5 in Division III-AA, while PAC 7 rival Atascadero checked in at No. 6 in Division IV-AA. North County Christian is slotted 12th in Division VI-AA.
Girls basketball: Arroyo Grande found itself No. 8 in Division III-AA, with Atascadero 12th in Division IV-AA and North County Christian No. 1 in Division VI-A.
Girls soccer: San Luis Obispo was voted fourth in Division III, followed by Arroyo Grande in sixth.Boys soccer: Arroyo Grande is No. 8 in Division V.
Wrestling: No new poll was released. Morro Bay has been No. 1 in Division VI since Dec. 15.