There have been far better seasons when it comes to soccer for Ahwatukee Foothills than the one that transpired.

Desert Vista sent both the boys and girls teams to the postseason, while the Horizon Honors boys team also qualified.

But all were gone after the state quarterfinals.

It doesn’t lower the bar for 2012, by any means. More than likely it didn’t sit well and just creates more of a focus on taking a step further, getting back to the level of play area programs are used to.

The Horizon Honors boys team brings back eight seniors from last squad, but is breaking in a new coach in Paul Ringennberg.

The team opened the year last week and the new coach feels the pieces are in place to build on last year’s success.

“We should do well and make it to playoffs again this year,” Ringennberg said.

The top players are expected to be senior forward Jordan Mattouk, senior defender Daniel Quan, senior defender Jack Whitson, junior defender Connor Pendleton and junior goalie Nikolai Powell.

The Thunder boys lost in the first round last year and should have a chance to make a deeper run this year despite losing leader Cesar Sandoval to graduation.

“We are young team with reasonable expectations,” coach Michael Rabasca said.

The Thunder has a core of five seniors who will determine how good the Thunder are this year.

Chris Byrd (an all-Tribune defender pick), Mitchell Abernathy, Conner Leisy, Josh Greene and MacKenzie Paquette.

Mountain Pointe had one of its worst season under coach Brian Sabato, who has a 119-60-4 record entering his ninth season.

“We are looking to improve on our record from last year,” Sabato said. “We have shown a tremendous level of enthusiasm and they are eager to learn. We have a tough schedule and we are looking to be as competitive as possible each time we step out there.”

The Pride will be led by senior defender Timmy Leach, senior midfielder Brian Bettner and junior midfielder Danny Meyer, while junior midfielder Riley Biederbeck, junior goalie Victor Cogco, freshman defender Briandon Johnson and freshman midfielder Damian Toulouse will be counted on heavily as well.

“We have great team chemistry and guys that are willing to do what it takes for the team to be successful,” Sabato said.

The girls programs might be in a better position, especially the Desert Vista program as the Thunder becomes more comfortable with Marin Hypolite’s style in his second season.

Desert Vista opened 8-0 last year, including a win in the Tempe Diablo tournament, and had the best postseason by making it to the quarterfinals before losing 3-1 in overtime to Pinnacle.

The Thunder bring back most of the core from the team that went 12-2 in power ranking games a year ago.

“The team has a sense of urgency and the pride is very evident in this year’s squad,” Hypolite said. “We have a well-balanced team from seniors to freshmen. We are faster and more aggressive than last year.”

Senior Rachel Ressler is a natural scorer and she will have plenty of help with senior defender Hannah Stevens, senior Alison Richardson, senior Tassia Saunders, senior Kari Kastelic, senior Kayla Weeks and senior Kelly Waston, who was an all-Tempe City pick last year.

“We want to win the second state title at Desert Vista,” Hypolite said.

Mountain Pointe just missed out on the postseason a year ago and will try to make up for it in 2012 by getting rounding back into playoff form.

The Pride will be led by senior Cera Hassinan, senior Kaitelin Warren, junior Ashley Munchak and junior Clare Wilmink.

Horizon Honors has some quality players returning, based on previous rosters, in Kendall Hickie, Anna Mathew, Shaila Homan and Casey Trier.


Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSKodaAFN.


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