Glendale High boys' soccer preview

Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer players Justin Wright, left, and Matt Ryan, right, work on dribbling during practice at the school's field. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

LA CRESCENTA — Perhaps one of the odder aspects of the 2012-2013 boys’ soccer season, at least locally, was the absence of a championship team or contender.

Powerhouse Crescenta Valley High and St. Francis made earlier-than-expected postseason exits, while Flintridge Prep, Glendale and Hoover highs continued to focus on progress.

As the season begins, all five teams talked about taking steps to rectifying the lack of a crown.

“I’m excited because we have five solid starters back from last season,” Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark said. “Last year, I thought we just had problems finishing. We had some ties that hurt us and I think we’re ready to move beyond that.”

Crescenta Valley hit the mountain top in 2011-12, when the team captured both a Pacific League and CIF Southern Section Division IV championship.

Last year, the Falcons finished second in league to Burroughs with an 8-2-4 record, with four untimely ties versus Pasadena and Muir highs, while posting a 19-4-7 overall record and falling in the second round of the Division III playoffs.

Some of Clark’s excitement this season is due to the return of senior midfielder Tony Royer, a key member from the Falcons’ title squad of two years ago.

Royer missed last season as he participated in a soccer academy.

“I’m not sure what the circumstances are regarding Tony’s return, but I’m glad to have him back,” Clark said. “He’s certainly a leader on the field and a talented player.”

Joining the UC Irvine-bound Royer are senior forward Matt Ryan, who is returning from a meniscus injury last season, junior midfielder Justin Wright and senior forward Chris Sinani, who Clark described as “an under-the-radar player.”

“We have some talent up front and in the middle and should be formidable,” Clark said. “We have the opportunity to compete for a league title and to make a deep push in the playoffs.”

Newcomers who may make an impact are Bangladeshian transfer Sameen Islam, a junior forward, and sophomore midfielder Joshua Moran, formrely of Los Angeles Cathedral.

Senior defender Daniel Eng is also a solid returner on defense.

Like Crescenta Valley, St. Francis is hoping to return to its former, more dominant self.

A young Golden Knights squad took its lumps under veteran coach Glen Appels, only to rebound toward the end of the season in finishing 8-11-5 overall and 5-6-1 in league for third place within the Mission League.

St. Francis won a wild 5-5 (4-3 on penalty kicks) match versus Canyon Springs in the wild-card round before falling in the first round of the Division I playoffs, 6-0, to Palos Verdes.

“The biggest thing last year is we had so many sophomores on varsity and they just didn’t have the experience,” Appels said. “In fact, it was seven sophomores and two freshmen with only five seniors.

“Now all those sophomores are juniors and they have experience and we’re excited about what we have going this year.”

The Golden Knights welcome back senior forward Frankie Veiga, who spent a good portion of last year injured, and an experienced back row in junior defenders Benjamin Gabella, Jason Carmody and Paolo Ramirez.