League play has fully kicked off in the Central Coast Section for boys soccer in what will be several typically tight title races amongst the section's top leagues.
WCAL : Early on it appears Sacred Heart Cathedral and Bellarmine are the two front-runners, but both St. Francis and Mitty appear to right behind them as we approach the halfway mark. Sacred Heart Cathedral remains the only unbeaten team in league, with their only dropped points coming in a tie against Mitty. Bellarmine had its perfect league record end on the weekend with a 2-1 loss against Mitty. Sacred Heart Cathedral will travel to Bellarmine on Saturday, but not before Bellarmine hosts St. Francis on Monday night in what is a gargantuan three game week for the Bells which could dictate the rest of their season.
Three time defending league champion St. Ignatius got off to a shocking 0-3 league start, but have started to turn it around with two wins in a row. While a fourth league title may be far fetched with the difficult start, a return to Open Division playoffs is not out of the question with their strong non-league record. Valley Christian is a team hanging around hoping to make the CCS playoffs for the first time under former SJSU coach Gary St. Clair, and the first time in five years for the Warrior program. A tough home loss to St. Ignatius was followed by a huge rebound win against Serra on the weekend to even out the weekend. The Warriors have a daunting week hosting St. Francis and traveling to Bellarmine.
BVAL Mt. Hamilton Division : With the new league schedule format in the BVAL every league game has heightened importance with each team getting four less games. Lincoln delivered the first real statement with a 2-0 win over defending champion Branham followed up by a comfortable win over Leigh on the road.
Leland and Santa Teresa find themselves both two points behind the Lions, courtesy of the pairs draw to each other. The good news for Branham is that even with the unbalanced schedule, Lincoln is one of the teams they will play again. If the Bruins can get through this week with Leigh and Overfelt a massive showdown at Leland awaits them the following week.
SCVAL De Anza Divison : Arguably the surprise team so far in the entire section is Santa Clara which finds itself on top of their respective league with some breathing room early on. However, with a dismantling of current BVAL league leaders Lincoln in December, we maybe should have seen this coming. Santa Clara has already defeated Homestead and its lone blemish on the record has come on the road against a strong Mountain View team.
Homestead was many peoples favorites going into league, especially after winnings its annual Christmas Cup defeating St. Francis in the final. However Luis Comosena's side fell to Mountain View on the opening game of the year, which was followed up by another loss to Santa Clara. Mountain View stamped themselves as league favorites after their win over Homestead but have since faltered with ties to Los Altos and Santa Clara and a loss to Los Gatos. Los Gatos and Santa Clara have the game of the week Friday night when Santa Clara travels up Highway 17 to take on its rivals.
PCAL Gabilan Division : League play has just started in the competitive PCAL Gabilan division with two of its biggest heavyweights already having drawn first blood against each other. Alvarez went to rival Alisal and tied 0-0 in the annual game dubbed the "Salinas El Classico". The Eagles have a daunting task, with first place potentially on the line, when they travel to Watsonville Friday night. The Wildcatz were held to a surprising draw at San Benito, but still find themselves tied for first place after a win against North Salinas. While there is no denying the talent at Alisal, the Trojans are currently sitting under .500 overall and will need to start making up ground not only to get themselves into the league title race, but get themselves comfortably back into the CCS playoffs where they can beat anybody.
PAL Bay Division : A three team race with Burlingame, Carlmont and Menlo-Atherton, with potentially a fourth in South San Francisco, could shake out to be one of the most compelling league races in CCS. Burlingame has to travel this week to Menlo-Atherton where it will need to pick up points. Burlingame has shown little trouble dispatching the bottom half of the league, but have already dropped points to Carlmont in a tie and lost to South San Francisco.
Other : Sacred Heart Prep looks to steamroll its competition the WBAL, and remains one of CCS few undefeated teams. The Gators handily defeated its biggest rival in Menlo 5-0 and Harker appears the only team in its league which could give them any sort of problem. The Gators have done it in non-league as well defeating Carlmont and Branham telling CCS they are for real. While crowing them WBAL champions may be premature to some, they are those already calling the Gators dark horse CCS open contenders. The Gators will most likely end the regular season undefeated and it will be a point race to see if they qualify for the open playoffs.