PREPS: Southern Section looks to rule region in soccer again

Three Southern California schools will be looking to repeat as, well, the closest thing California has to state high school soccer champions, and they're not the only local teams expecting success.

The fourth edition of the CIF Southern California Regional Championships begins Monday, and teams from the Southern Section are reasonably expected to dominate. All six titles last year were won by teams from the state's largest section, with five of the six losing finalists also from the Southern.

Included among the victors: Paramount (boys Division I), Salesian (boys Division III) and Flintridge Sacred Heart (girls Division III), who have returned to defend their crowns.

They're among 24 Southern Section schools, with six more from the L.A. City Section, in six eight-team brackets leading to title games Friday and Saturday at Warren High School in Downey.

The tournament also includes schools from the San Diego and Central sections. The Central Section is for schools in the southern Central Valley, stretching just north of Fresno.

The Southern Section governs schools in Southern California (except those in the Los Angeles Unified School District or from San Diego and Imperial counties), as well as schools up the Central Coast to Paso Robles and in the Sierras to Mammoth Lakes.

Northern California schools do not participate, and a true state championship isn't possible as long as the Sac-Joaquin, San Francisco and Oakland sections utilize fall and spring for soccer seasons.

All but three local sectional champions -- Cate's boys and Carson's and Sierra Canyon's girls -- are in the fields, with five local teams appointed top seeds: Claremont (Division II boys), Oaks Christian (Division III boys), San Clemente (Division I girls), Santa Margarita (Division II girls) and Flintridge Sacred Heart.

Flintridge Sacred Heart, from La Cañada Flintridge, beat San Clemente in the Southern Section Division 1 title. Santa Margarita lost to San Clemente in the Division 1 semifinals.

Salesian's, Animo Leadership's and Canoga Park's boys and Palos Verdes' girls also received bids despite failing to reach their sectional finals. Canoga Park, seeded 31st in the L.A. City Section boys Large Schools division, was beaten in the second round, but few other schools from the section qualify as Division II teams. Classification is based on enrollment.

Cate, a Carpinteria school that would be favored in the Division III boys tournament after a 22-0-0 campaign en route to the Southern Section Division 7 title, declined an invitation because it is spring break on campus.

Salesian, from Los Angeles, and Animo Leadership, from Inglewood, have been in every Division III boys tournament -- Salesian also won the 2008 title -- and San Clemente is in its fourth Division I girls field. The Tritons won in 2009.

The Southern Section has won 14 of 18 regional titles and sent teams to every final but one, the 2009 boys Division I championship game, in which El Camino Real, an L.A. City school from Woodland Hills, beat Bullard from Fresno. That is L.A. City's only title.

L.A. City's girls representatives are 0-9-0 and have been shut out eight times and outscored, 50-2.

The pairings (all first-round games 4 p.m. unless noted):


Division I (first round: Tuesday)

8/Baldwin Park (20-3-2) at 1/Buchanan (Clovis, 20-2-3)

5/Paramount (18-2-6) at 4/Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, 16-5-2)

6/Golden Valley (Bakersfield, 22-4-2) at 3/South East (South Gate, 20-2-11)

7/El Rancho (Pico Rivera, 23-2-1) at 2/San Clemente (17-6-6), 6:30 p.m.

Semifinals: Thursday at higher seed; Final: Saturday at Warren HS (Downey)

Division II (Monday)

8/Coronado (24-1-0) at 1/Claremont (21-1-5)

5/Oak Hills (Hesperia, 23-3-3) at 4/Reedley (15-11-3)

6/Canoga Park (15-9-6) at 3/Santa Barbara (19-6-4)

7/Citrus Hill (Perris, 14-6-3) vs. 2/University City (San Diego) at Mira Mesa HS (San Diego), 7 p.m.

Semifinals: Wednesday at higher seed; Final: Friday at Warren HS (Downey)

Division III (Tuesday)

8/Mammoth (Mammoth Lakes, 21-3-3) vs. 1/Annenberg (Los Angeles, 15-3-2) at West Adams Prep (Los Angeles)

5/Santa Fe Christian (San Diego, 9-11-4) at 4/Salesian (Los Angeles, 16-3-4)

6/Animo Leadership (Inglewood, 15-9-0) at 3/Francis Parker (San Diego, 17-2-3)

7/Carpinteria (19-4-4) at 2/Mendota (26-1-1)

Semifinals: Thursday at higher seed; Final: Saturday at Warren HS (Downey)


Division I (Tuesday)

8/Westview (San Diego, 16-4-5) at 1/San Clemente (18-3-8)

5/Buena (Ventura, 20-5-4) at 4/Bullard (Fresno, 23-3-1)

6/Wilson (Long Beach, 18-6-5) at 3/El Camino Real (Woodland Hills, 20-2-3)

7/Ayala (Chino Hills, 21-5-3) at 2/Torrey Pines (San Diego, 20-2-4)

Semifinals: Thursday at higher seed; Final: Saturday at Warren HS (Downey)

Division II (Monday)

8/Northridge Academy (24-3-4) at 1/Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, 24-3-4)

5/Palos Verdes (24-5-3) at 4/Coronado (12-6-4)

6/Bishop Amat (La Puente, 27-1-0) at 3/Frontier (Bakersfield, 20-2-4)

7/San Dimas (20-3-2) at 2/La Jolla (14-4-3)

Semifinals: Wednesday at higher seed; Final: Friday at Warren HS (Downey)

Division III (Tuesday)

8/Horizon Christian Academy (San Diego, 10-10-4) vs. 1/Flintridge Sacred Heart (La Cañada Flintridge, 21-1-1) at Occidental College (Eagle Rock)

5/Desert Christian (Lancaster, 21-0-2) at 4/Central Valley Christian (Visalia, 22-1-2)

6/LACES (Los Angeles, 12-6-4) at 3/Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, 23-2-1)

7/St. Margaret's (San Juan Capistrano, 25-4-3) at 2/The Bishop's (La Jolla, 13-4-0), 3:30 p.m.

Semifinals: Thursday at higher seed; Final: Saturday at Warren HS (Downey)



Boys I: Santa Monica

Boys II: Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita)

Boys III: Salesian (Los Angeles)

Girls I: Wilson (Long Beach)

Girls II: Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)

Girls III: The Bishop's (La Jolla)


Boys I: El Camino Real (Woodland Hills)

Boys II: St. Francis (La Cañada Flintridge)

Boys III: Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista)

Girls I: San Clemente

Girls II: Harvard-Westlake (Studio City)

Girls III: Desert Christian (Lancaster)


Boys I: Paramount

Boys II: Corona del Mar (Newport Beach)

Boys III: Salesian (Los Angeles)

Girls I: Esperanza (Anaheim)

Girls II: Granite Hills (Apple Valley)

Girls III: Flintridge Sacred Heart (La Cañada Flintridge)