Optimism abounds in the Laguna Beach High boys' soccer program which launches its 2012-13 season Friday .
Dan Richards starts his third year as head coach, and sixth overall at the school, with 10 returning players from a team that last year won a wild-card game in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs and then took eventual division champion Crescenta Valley to overtime before succumbing on a golden goal.
A key returning player is All-Orange Coast League forward/midfielder Reece Barton who served as team captain last year. The Breakers must fill voids left by graduated players Alec Williams, who started in goal for four years, and Joseph Rousseau, the team's leading scorer last year.
The following is a capsule look at the 2012-13 Breakers who play host to Dana Hills in Friday's 6:30 p.m. season opener:
Head coach: Dan Richards (third year)
Coaching staff: Dan Harrison; Franz Guldner, Ben Helm.
2011-12 record: 8-6-3
League record: 4-5-1 (fourth)
CIF results: Won wild-card game; reached first round CIF Southern Section Division 4.
Returning players: Reece Barton (F/MF, all-league, Sr.); Harrison Gregory (MF, Soph.); Jake Hexberg (MF/F, Jr.); Zach Jacobs (DEF./MF, Soph.); Reed Matthews (DEF/MF, Sr.); Quinn Matthews (DEF/MF, Sr.); Chris Tellez (MF, F, Jr.); Willy Wheeler (MF/F, Soph.); Evan Williams (DEF, Soph.); Bryce Williamson (GK, Sr.).
The squad: Hunter Ashworth (MF, Soph.); Pierce Ashworth (GK, Soph.); Andrew Castro (GK, Sr.); Grifain Fair (DEF/MF, Sr.); Adam Farsheed (DEF, Sr.); Zach Finklestein (DEF, Soph.); Noah Garrett (MF, F, Sr.); Tobie Grieson (MF, Soph.); Jacob Kunkel (DEF., Jr.); Noah Radach (DEF, Jr.); Rory Saunders (DEF/MF, Jr.); Edward Willette (MF, Fr.).
Coach's outlook: "The coaching staff is very excited about the upcoming season," Richards said. "We are looking to build on the success of last year and continue the growth of the program. We have some very strong returning players along with some great additions to the varsity squad. Although we know we lost some very talented players from last year, the returning players have that extra experience now to help guide the team to another successful season.
"The attitude and all-around atmosphere surrounding the team has been good at training and we're looking to keep the same great team spirit and camaraderie we had last season. A lot of the players are good friends and are all motivated to reach the same goals for the team.
"We have put together a really strong schedule for our non-league games to test the boys and prepare them for league. Games against big D-1 schools such as Dana Hills, Tesoro, Trabuco Hills and Aliso Niguel will ensure we are battle tested come our league opener (Jan. 9).
"We are also very happy with the influx of new talent to the program for this year and feel that the JV and frosh-soph teams will have strong campaigns. We are working hard to develop and prepare these younger players for higher levels of play as they progress through their high school career."
"It is also very important for the strength of the program that we have retained the same coaching staff. We have a great set of coaches who are all highly qualified and experienced within the sport. This continuity has been a huge part of the program's improvement over the past few years."
Season opener: Friday , 6:30 p.m., vs. Dana Hills
Boys' Soccer Schedule
Friday : Dana Hills, 6:30 p.m.