Natomas High School, which won Sac-Joaquin Section Division III soccer championships in 2010 and 2011, is back in the championship conversation.
Entering Tuesday’s matches, junior Baltazar Silva led 9-1-1 Natomas in goals with 17, third best in the section.
Junior Ruben Mendoza has scored seven goals and also leads the No. 16 Nighthawks in another statistic – he has a 4.6 grade-point average, putting him near the top of his class.
Geoanni Villalobos, a 2006 Natomas graduate in his fourth season as coach, stresses academics as much as athletics. Three players – Gabriel Martinez, Andres Munoz and Anthony Gonzales – have 4.0 GPAs and every player on the team has at least a 3.0 GPA, Villalobos said.
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“Overall, we play well together,” he said. “They have good chemistry on and off the field. They’re a good group, pretty united.”
Realignment moved Natomas from the Tri-County Conference into the Golden Empire League that includes No. 8 Capital Christian.
Rankings shakeup – Last week, Granite Bay bumped Jesuit from the No. 1 spot in The Bee’s Top 20 and Davis moved up three spots to No. 2. But with Granite Bay losing 3-2 to Christian Brothers in nonleague play and Davis falling 2-1 to Franklin in the Delta League, Jesuit reclaimed the top spot it had to open the season. CBS jumped up to No. 2 from No. 4.
No. 13 Roseville and No. 14 Grant debut in the rankings, and No. 12 Franklin re-entered the mix after dropping out the previous week.
Ozzie Rodriguez and Eric Cobian scored goals to lead Franklin over Davis. Franklin’s home match Monday against Jesuit was postponed because of poor field conditions. A makeup date has yet to be determined.
Falcons soar – Since losing to rival Jesuit 3-0 on Sept. 9, CBS has won six in a row, including 5-0 over defending Division VI section champion Capital Christian and 3-2 over defending Division I champ Granite Bay. Kristian Heptner, the section’s second-leading scorer, had three goals against Capital Christian and two against Granite Bay.
CBS won the Division III section last season and expects to repeat, Heptner said.
“We lost some starters to graduation, but this is a new and improved version,” said Heptner, who entered Tuesday’s matches with 19 goals and three assists. “It’s a great group of guys, great chemistry.”
Louis Heinzer and Roberto Plasencia have scored four goals each and combined for 10 assists, and Seamus Hudnut and Alec Edelmayer have been strong in goal for the Falcons (7-1-1), who have allowed just nine goals in their first nine matches.
Top-ranked El Camino (22-0) has lost just two sets as it pursues the program’s first unbeaten season.
The Eagles have a veteran lineup, headed by senior outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti, who leads the team in kills, serving points and aces, is second in digs and third in blocks. Fellow senior starters include four-year varsity setter Devin Herendaand middle blockers Libby Dahlberg and Kate Nicknig.
Herenda leads the section in assists with 11.5 per set.
The Eagles have Capital Athletic League showdowns with No. 12 Rio Americano on Oct. 6 and No. 8 Christian Brothers on Oct. 13.
Mitty showcase – No. 4 St. Francis and No. 6 Granite Bay were each 2-2 in the Mitty Showcase in San Jose.
St. Francis beat Menlo of Atherton and Granite Bay and lost to Monte Vista of Danville and eventual champion Mitty, nationally ranked seventh and No. 2 in the state by MaxPreps.
Granite Bay beat Monte Vista and Menlo and also lost to Mitty.