OCEANSIDE — Avocado League East varsity girls soccer teams can bow down to El Camino High School, which took this year’s league win and has its sights set on CIF playoffs.
Luis Casillas, El Camino High School varsity girls soccer head coach, has been building team momentum for six years. He admits there were growing pains the first year he came on as head coach. Every year since then the team’s goal has been to get better than the prior year.
This year the team spirit to win is stronger than ever.
“This year they’re absolutely focused and determined to reach their goal (to win),” Casillas said.
To prepare for its league win the team’s workouts were more intense, and players pushed each other to do their best. Casillas said players understand team expectations.
“They hold each other accountable more so than ever,” Casillas said.
The team consists of top-level competitive players. About half of the team has played together on the high school team for two years. Most players have also played on competitive Soccer Club of Oceanside Breakers teams. Some have experience competing in out-of-state games.
“The varsity team are advanced players who represent the school well,” Casillas said.
Collectively this is the first year all team members have played together.
The team has 43 players on its roster, which was especially beneficial during winter games that saw seven players out with the flu. The large team also creates a strong support system during practice sessions and play.
El Camino’s season began with a tired start. A number of players were coming back from club games on Sunday with their first high school game on Monday.
Casillas said momentum picked up when El Camino faced top league teams, Torrey Pines and Carlsbad, and performed exceptionally well.
“We lost in the last 15 minutes, 12 seconds (of each game),” Casillas said. “We knew we were able to play against top teams.”
Casillas said a switch turned on for the girls and they went forward undefeated for nine games and took the league win.
Strong players have been forward Jada Wilson and center fielder Alyssa Ozuna.
Casillas said Wilson brings friendship and camaraderie to team. She is a top player who controls the ball and often gives teammates the opportunity to score goals.
“She has speed on the field, and a confidence that we’re going to get an opportunity to score,” Casillas said. “She’s explosive behind the centers as well.”
Team captain Ozuna is a highly skilled player who leads by example. Casillas said the center fielder defends all the way back and gets involved in the attack.
“She wants to win at everything she does,” Casillas said.
Both players have bright futures ahead. Wilson has committed to San Jose State University and Ozuna has committed to Grambling State University.
El Camino’s season continues March 3 with a first-ever appearance in a CIF final. The Wildcats will play the Mission Hills-Our Lady of Peace winner in the Division II championship at La Jolla High School at 4:30 p.m.