ALL-NORTH COAST SECTION
Player of the Year
KALANI KOSSA-RIENZI, BERKELEY
As a freshman, Kalani Kossa-Rienzi watched from the bleachers as the Berkeley High varsity team celebrated a shootout win over De La Salle in the NCS Division I title game. As a sophomore, he was part of a team which went unbeaten in league play but fell to Pittsburg in the section quarterfinals. As a junior, there was no stopping him or his teammates, especially when Kossa-Rienzi notched two goals in the NCS title game, racing past De La Salle for a convincing 4-1 championship victory.
The Yellowjackets scored all four of their goals that day in the second half, and Kossa-Rienzi exhibited his enthusiasm for the moment when he nailed a perfect backflip following his first goal of the match, which gave Berkeley a 2-0 lead. It was a moment which captured his personality on the field.
“He is funny and full of life, and one of the nicest kids I have ever met,” said Berkeley coach Andre Hebert. “As outstanding as he is as a player, he is also an excellent teammate and an excellent student.”
Kossa-Rienzi also provided the final nail in the coffin that evening, cementing a victory which not only handed Berkeley a section crown but also lifted the program in the CIF NorCal playoffs for the first time ever.
“At the beginning, we said this was our year, that we were going to make history,” Kossa-Rienzi told Prep2Prep’s Jesus Cano after the section title game. “It was amazing to win that title in front of so many amazing fans. We wanted to win that title for them.”
The junior standout did not stop there. He played a key role in controlling possession against Montgomery in the regional quarterfinals, something no other team accomplished against the Vikings, and added an assist during a 4-1 victory. In the regional semifinals, he found the back of the net against Sac-Joaquin powerhouse Jesuit-Carmichael, though Berkeley’s season ended with a loss on penalty kicks, after both teams were knotted at three following regulation and overtime.
The loss in the NorCal semifinal was the only one of the year for Kossa-Rienzi and the Yellowjackets, after winning 24 games and going unbeaten in WACC-Foothill play. The talented underclassman got it done in all aspects of the game offensively, notching 25 goals to go with 18 assists for a section-high 68 points during the season. For a program with tons of tradition, his effort stood out to the coaching staff.
“He is one of the best I have ever seen at Berkeley,” Hebert added. “Although he is small in stature, he dominates in one-on-one duels. He plays both sides of the ball and has a very high soccer IQ. He is fast and plays direct when needed. He has a special feel for the game.”
Already having had a tremendous regular season, one which resulted in being named the Player of the Year in the WACC-Foothill, Kossa-Rienzi made an impact in every post-season game. That started with a pair of assists during an easy win over James Logan, and then resulted in goals against two defensive-minded EBAL opponents, Dublin and Amador Valley. Following that was the brace in the title game against De La Salle.
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Kalani Kossa-Rienzi as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Player of the Year.
Other players considered include Montgomery’s Zack Batchelder, University’s Max Edelstein, Foothill’s Kamran Matin and Las Lomas’ Tim Weidinger.
Coach of the Year
ANDRE HEBERT, BERKELEY
Over the past six seasons, Berkeley High has maintained a decade of dominance under the leadership of coach Andre Hebert. In the 2018-2019 campaign, however, the Yellowjackets pushed that to new heights, winning a program-best 24 games, capturing the WACC-Foothill and NCS titles, and advancing to the CIF NorCal playoffs for the first time ever.
Entering this past season, Berkeley was actually coming off its lowest win total in the previous three years. After reaching the section semifinals following a 21-win campaign in 2016, and then winning it all in a 22-win season in 2017, the ‘Jackets were eliminated by Pittsburg in the 2018 section quarterfinals and won just 15 games for the year. It left the program hungry for success in 2019.
With a talented and motivated cast of players, Berkeley dominated opponents this past season. In 29 games, it outscored opponents 103-28. The Yellowjackets did not lose a game to a league opponent and once again asserted themselves as masters of the post-season, storming past James Logan, Dublin and Amador Valley to get a title game rematch with De La Salle, who Berkeley had beaten in penalty kicks two years earlier. No extra time was needed in this rematch, as the Yellowjackets scored four times in the second half for a convincing 4-1 victory.
In typical fashion for a program which has steadily built a reputation as one of the top programs in the state, Hebert and his staff take little credit for their success this season.
“Javier, Blaise and I were honored and extremely lucky to work with a group of players this caliber. They were a special group with the ability to play as a team and read the game collectively,” Hebert said. “They were mature, resilient, oozed mentality and had an extremely high team soccer IQ. Coaching them was a sheer joy.”
The other thing Hebert could have added was that his team never lost a game in regulation. After winning 24 times heading into the regional semifinals, Berkeley had its season come to an end with a shootout loss to Jesuit-Carmichael, two days after having convincingly beaten a Montgomery team which had tied Berkeley earlier in the year. In the game against Jesuit, the marquee programs battled to a 3-3 tie after regulation and overtime before the Marauders prevailed on penalty kicks.
Like with any great program, Hebert and his staff will face the task of replacing key graduation seniors, including four of their top five scorers. But with underclassmen such as Kalani Kossa-Rienzi, Gabriel Serra and Darshan Kamenetzky returning, don’t count the Yellowjackets out for next year, especially with Hebert at the helm.
For his efforts throughout this season, we are pleased to recognize Andre Hebert as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Coach of the Year.
Other coaches considered include Montgomery’s Jon Schwan, Marin Academy’s Josh Kalkstein and Richmond’s Rene Siles.
FIRST TEAM ALL-NCS
Max Edelstein, University
The top scorer in the BCL and the NCS, Edelstein notched 30 goals to go with 15 assists, lifting the Red Devils to a BCL-West championship and appearances in both the NCS Division IV title game and the CIF NorCal playoffs. The Colgate commit scored four times in a regional quarterfinal win over Archbishop Mitty.
Zack Batchelder, Montgomery
Batchelder was the top player in the NBL-Oak and the top player for the Division II champion Vikings. He racked up 32 goals and 12 assists while leading Montgomery to league and section titles, and a berth in the Division I bracket of the NorCal playoffs.
Andoni Etcheverry, Marin Academy
Etcheverry led the Wildcats to both NCS Division IV and CIF NorCal Division II titles, scoring 16 goals to go with eight assists. Among the Santa Clara commit’s scoring efforts were a pair of two-goal outings in big non-league wins over Bishop O’Dowd and Ygnacio Valley, plus a hat trick during a regional quarterfinal victory over Livingston.
Kalani Kossa-Rienzi, Berkeley
A clear selection for Player of the Year, the WACC-Foothill MVP had 25 goals and 18 assists to lead the Yellowjackets to league and section championships. He had two goals and an assist in the NCS Divison I title game win over De La Salle, and either scored or assisted on goals in every post-season match.
Kamran Matin, Foothill
The MVP of the EBAL orchestrated the attack for the Falcons, and his corner kicks were the key to their set pieces. He finished the year with eight goals and four assists, and was lethally efficient when taking penalty kicks.
Eli Kane, Berkeley
The first-team WACC-Foothill selection captained the Yellowjackets to a section title and was key in their ability to win possession battles in each match. His four goals and five assists were a bonus to the way he controlled the field.
Seb Maza, De La Salle
The Spartans allowed just 24 goals in 26 matches, including just one goal in the first three rounds of the NCS playoffs. This first-team All-EBAL defender was a huge reason, especially in a 1-0 semifinal win over Vintage.
Tim Weidinger, Las Lomas
Weidinger – a two-sport standout – was named Defensive Player of the Year in the DAL after using his length and speed to deter opposing attacks. The Knights allowed just 15 goals all season long and went unbeaten in league play.
SECOND TEAM ALL-NCS
Anthony Fuller, Concord
Fuller was named co-Offensive Player of the Year in the DAL after notching 12 goals and 10 assists, including a pair of goals in a regular season finale victory over Pinole Valley, a win which secured the Minutemen’s playoff berth.
THIRD TEAM ALL-NCS
Francis Aquilina (St. Helena), Abad Cuenca (Calistoga), Daniel Kjeldsen (Bishop O’Dowd), Caleb Foster (Albany), Kellen Whetstone (Marin Academy), Leonardo Garcia (Berkeley), Ruthwick Challagonda (Terra Linda), Ryan Dieter (Maria Carrillo), Paris Ruiz (Clayton Valley), Will Kalmbach (Piedmont)
Ben Wold (Amador Valley), Chris Hernandez (American Canyon), Gerardo Perez (Vintage), Roberto Barahona (Concord), Kellen Clancy (Campolindo), Cole Hardister (Redwood), Nico Sadie (Drake), Alberto Padilla (Freedom), Anthony Fontanelli (Rancho Cotate), Nick Eusebio (Monte Vista), Diego Ramos (Ygnacio Valley), Roberto Gonzalez (Richmond)
Nathaniel Kuffner (Redwood), Luke Foscalina (Livermore), Connor Gregg (Campolindo), Christian Rodriguez (Newark Memorial)
Bryan Cruz (Freedom), Alejandro Rodriguez (Richmond), Emanuel Padilla (Montgomery)
Fernando Juarez, Elexsio Pelayo
Cy Berglin, Taylor Melendrez
Billy Biondini, Duran Paez
Charles Janssen, Jackson Tilden-Browne
Alejandro Ceja, Rodrigo Vasquez Rodriguez
Jack Ferris, Seth Pierson
Nick Ames, Liam McCarthy
Alec Sievers, Juancho Theriot
Matthew Nielson, Matthew Forsell
Dimitri Vonich, Caleb Mendoza
DE LA SALLE:
Tyler Cessio, Ramiro Rosas
Adam Martinez, Lucas Vance
Jason White, Ryan Assadi
Ivan Mojica, Daniel Estupinan
Giovanni Maya, Jacob Lepore
Angel Gastelum, Xander Armatis
Miwoned Siraj, Sergio Garcia
Christian Gutierrez, Jordan Bowman-Davis
Javier Tovar, Matt Wojick
Tanner Van Dam, Sam Busboom
Oswaldo Rojas, Oscar Roque
Jacob Kilmartin, Adam Sanchez
Elian Delgado-Camacho, Anthony Diaz
Fidel Ochoa, Andres Pinedo, Cesar Arroyo
Daniel Shanoda, James Walker
Rico Barker, Rafael Stankiewicz
Alexis Dominguez, Sergio Villagomez
Justin Neustaetter, Cian Gallagher
Saul Carapia, Diraj Thajali
Alan Arquieta, Jose Pineda
Rudy Finn, Wyatt Meyer
Michael Gonzalez, Marco Carbajal
Andres Maciel, Jose Vasquez
Yorvin Cifuentes, Chris Barrios
SAN RAMON VALLEY:
Spencer Gillen, Will Wiersdorf
Luke Whelan, Gaspard Hauzy
Jessie Cruz, Tony Santillan
Erick Garcia, Aly Alvarado
Carlos Jaramillo, Zeke Ume-Ukeje
Alejandro Lopez, Alexander Sandoval