The 2015 Lotto Sport Western Showcase can make quite a case for being the strongest top-to-bottom field ever assembled for an in-season high school soccer tournament.
All eight participants in this year’s event are ranked in the SIMA FAB 50.
Matches start Thursday, Dec. 10, at San Clemente High School in San Clemente, Calif., and the matches will be streamed live starting at 2:30 p.m. PST.
The first round features SIMA FAB 50 No. 25 Watsonville (Watsonville, Calif.) vs. No. 31 San Clemente (San Clemente, Calif.) at 2:30 p.m. PST, followed by No. 12 Carlsbad (Carlsbad, Calif.) vs. No. 11 Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.) at 4:15 p.m.; No. 4 Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) vs. No. 30 Brophy Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) at 6 p.m. and No. 32 Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.) vs. No. 28 Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.).
While the Montverde Academy Soccer Tournament in January generally has more Top 10-type teams, the MAST has never been completely full of nationally ranked teams. Other major high school events such as the Gateway City Soccer Classic and Nike Palmetto Cup might have eight or more nationally ranked teams on an annual basis, but those events have 20-60 participants.
Last year, Buchanan won the Lotto Western Soccer Showcase, which vaulted the team into the national title chase. This year’s Lotto winner is likely to end up with a Top 5 ranking heading into the holiday break.
Here is a quick look at the tournament field:
BROPHY PREP (Phoenix, Ariz.)
2015-16 SIMA FAB 50 Rank: 30
Coach: Noah Lewkowitz, third season
2014-15 Record: 15-3-4, Arizona state semifinalist
Returning Starters: 1
Key Players: Air Force commit Wyatt Dial, Sr., D; Carter Clemmensen, So., F.
BUCHANAN (Clovis, Calif.)
2015-16 SIMA FAB 50 Rank: 11
Coach: John Spurgeon, ninth season (136-47-17)
2014-15 Record: 21-3-1, CIF Central Section Division 1 champion; CIF Southern Regional semifinalist
Returning Players: 17
Key Players: Fresno State commit J.T. Arruda, Sr., F; William & Lee commit Oliver Dolberg, Sr., D; Ryan Bray, Sr., GK; Jacob Rudolph, Jr., F; Fresno Pacific commit Stephen Morris, Jr., M.
CARLSBAD (Carlsbad, Calif.)
2015-16 SIMA FAB 50 Rank: 12
Coach: Jeff Riccitelli, 23 seasons (280-190-104)
2014-15 Record: 17-3-7, CIF San Diego Open quarterfinalist
Returning Starters: 7
Key Players: Collin Riccitelli, Sr., D (first team all-league); Seth Ketterer, Jr., GK (18 shutouts in 2015); Kayle Manwaring, Sr., M (second-team all-league), Richard Harris, Sr., M (second-team all-league)
HAMILTON (Chandler, Ariz.)
2015-16 SIMA FAB 50 Rank: 28
Coach: Dr. Nicholas J. Markette, ninth season
2014-15 Record: 20-3-2, Arizona state semifinalist
Returning Starters: 4
Key Players: Josh Drak, Jr.; California Lutheran commit Dylan Brown, Sr. (all-state in football and soccer); Beto Vidana, Jr. (all-state selection); St. Mary’s (Calif.) commit Sean Holland, Sr.; Adrian Moran, Jr. (all-state).
LOYOLA (Los Angeles, Calif.)
2015-16 SIMA FAB 50 Rank: 32
Coach: Chris Walter, 16 seasons (332-69-69)
2014-15 Record: 18-6-4, CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals
Returning Starters: 6
Key Players: Boston College commit Elliot Smith-Hastie, Sr., M (first team all-league, 8 goals, 8 assists); UC San Diego commit Joseph Celo (second team all-league), Sr.; Clayton Barnes, Sr.; Dylan Juarez, Sr.
SAN CLEMENTE (San Clemente, Calif.)
2015-16 SIMA FAB 50 Rank: 31
Coach: Mike Pronier, 28th season (354-202-128)
2014-15 Record: 15-6-4, CIF Southern Section third round
Key Players: Cameron Dickie, Jr., GK; Chase Paulson, Jr., F; Benjamin Giacobello, So., MF; Francisco Caudillo, Sr., D.
SERVITE (Anaheim, Calif.)
2015-16 SIMA FAB 50 Rank: 4
Coach: Jon Spencer, fourth season (63-13-5)
2014-15 Record: 27-3-1, CIF Southern Section Division 1 champion
Returning Starters: 2
Key Players: Army commit Zane Rojas, Sr., D; Loyola Marymount commit Garret Amador, Sr., M; Michael Donnelly, Sr., M.
WATSONVILLE (Watsonville, Calif.)
2015-16 SIMA FAB 50 Rank: 25
Coach: Roland Hedgpath
2014-15 Record: 19-1-3
Returning Starters: N/A
Key Players: Anthony Orendian, Sr., F