2019-20 athletes & coaches of the year, All-County teams, Outstanding Seniors

A look back at the OCVarsity award winners for the 2019-20 high school sports season.

Athletes and coaches of the year and All-County teams were selected for the fall and winter sports. For the spring sports, which had their season cut short by COVID-19, the Register chose an Outstanding Senior for each sport.

OCVarsity 2020 Athletes & Coaches of the Year page

FALL SPORTS

FOOTBALL

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Young, Mater Dei

Defensive Player of the Year: Clark Phillips III, La Habra

Coach of the Year: Nick Karavedas, Sunny Hills

All-County team: First Team Offense

All-County team: First Team Defense

All-County teams: Second Team and Third Team

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Player of the Year: Mia Tuaniga, Mater Dei

Coach of the Year: Isaac Owens, Esperanza

All-County team

BOYS CROSS COUNTY

Runner of the Year: Anthony Grover, JSerra

Coach of the Year: Craig Dunn, Dana Hills

All-County team

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

Runner of the Year: Carly Corsinita, Capistrano Valley

Coach of the Year: Ken Chai, El Toro

All-County team

GIRLS GOLF

Golfer of the Year: Sherilyn Villaneuva, Troy

Coach of the Year: Bruce Loman, Sage Hill

All-County team

GIRLS TENNIS

Player of the Year: Kaytlin Taylor, Huntington Beach

Coach of the Year: Natasha Schottland, Portola

All-County team

BOYS WATER POLO

Player of the Year: Tanner Pulice, Corona del Mar

Coach of the Year: Logan Powell, San Clemente

All-County team

 

WINTER SPORTS

BOYS BASKETBALL

Player of the Year: Devin Askew, Mater Dei

Coach of the Year: D’Cean Bryant, Fountain Valley

All-County team

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Player of the Year: Asia Avinger, Rosary

Coach of the Year: Jimmy Valverde, Esperanza

All-County team

BOYS SOCCER

Player of the Year: Uriel Sanchez, Servite

Coach of the Year: Jon Spencer, Servite

All-County team

GIRLS SOCCER

Player of the Year: Samantha Williams, JSerra

Coach of the Year: Pat Rossi, Los Alamitos

All-County team

GIRLS WATER POLO

Player of the Year: Emma Lineback, Laguna Beach

Coach of the Year: Rory Bevins, Rosary

All-County team

BOYS WRESTLING

Wrestler of the Year: Aaron Nagao, Esperanza

Coach of the Year: Dane Valdez, Calvary Chapel

All-County team

GIRLS WRESTLING

Wrestler of the Year: Aine Drury, Westminster

All-County team

 

SPRING SPORTS

Outstanding Seniors

Baseball: Jonny Long, Orange

Softball: Madi Simon, Beckman

Boys Swimming: Ryan Abdollahi, Dana Hills

Girls Swimming: Ella Ristic,  Santa Margarita

Boys Track & Field: Isaac Korn, Trabuco Hills

Girls Track & Field: Sophia Hartwell, Orange Lutheran

Boys Volleyball: Niko Colburn, Huntington Beach

Boys Tennis: Jake Huarte, Mater Dei

Boys Golf: Taehoon Song, Anaheim Discovery Christian

Boys Lacrosse: Andrew Cumming, Foothill

Girls Lacrosse: Ashley Stokes, Foothill

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OCVarsity 2020 Athletes of the Year special section

The Register wraps up a year of excellence in high school sports by selecting the Orange County Athletes of the Year.

The honorees are featured in a special section that includes lists of all of the athletes and coaches who received OCVarsity honors in 2019-20. The section is included in Sunday’s edition of the Register.

There is also an interactive online version of the section that can be found here.

A link to our page for the 2020 OCVaristy Athlete & Coach Awards.

This year, because of COVID-19, the Register couldn’t host its annual banquet for all of the year’s award winners, but the OCVarsity staff congratulates the honorees, including Rosary’s Asia Avinger, who received the Trinity League Athlete of the Year award from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

 

To read the individual stories, click on the athlete names below.

Male Athlete of the Year

Bryce Young, Mater Dei


Mater Dei High quarterback Bryce Young announced his commitment to attend Alabama on social media on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

Female Athlete of the Year

Asia Avinger, Rosary


Rosary’s Asia Avinger is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. The San Clemente High School athlete committed to play basketball at San Diego State. Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

Male Outstanding Competitor

Lance Keneley, Mission Viejo


Mission Viejo High School’s Lance Keneley is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. Keneley has committed to play football at Stanford. Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Female Outstanding Competitor

Ella Gardiner, San Clemente


San Clemente athlete Ella Gardiner is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. Gardiner excelled in basketball and volleyball.  Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Corona del Mar’s John Humphreys is the Register’s Male Outstanding Competitor

John Humphreys is 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, and he is part of a family of outstanding athletes, parents and siblings alike.

His coaches at Corona del Mar High School, where Humphreys just completed his junior year, said Humphreys is a high-achiever in sports not only because of his physical and genetic gifts but also because of how Humphreys applies those gifts to football and basketball.

  • John Humphreys of Corona del Mar High School is a standout athlete in both football and basketball. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • John Humphreys of Corona del Mar High School is a standout athlete in both football and basketball. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

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  • John Humphreys of Corona del Mar High School is a standout athlete in both football and basketball. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • John Humphreys of Corona del Mar High School is a standout athlete in both football and basketball. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Grace Brethren#11 Nate Bennett intercepts a pass intended for Corona del Mar#6 John Humphreys in the final moments. Grace Brethren defeated Corona del Mar for the Division 4 championship in Simi Valley, CA on November 24, 2018. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • Corona del Mar High School receiver John Humphreys is on the Register’s 2018 All-County football team. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Corona del Mar receiver John Humphreys breaks away from Yorba Linda defenders in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 4 football playoffs at Newport Harbor High.
    Newport Beach on Friday, November 9, 2018. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Corona del Mar wide receiver John Humphreys jumps up to grab a pass for a touchdown against La Habra safety Ricky Lane in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 4 football playoffs at Newport Harbor High.
    Newport Beach on Friday, November 9, 2018. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Corona Del Mar’s John Humphreys eludes a Newport Harbor tackler in the 57th annual Battle of the Bay rivalry game Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 in Newport Beach.
    (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Corona del Mar’s John Humphreys, top, scores a touchdown over Edison’s Kaleo Helekahi during a Sunset League game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, September 27, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

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“We’ve had guys who jump higher and run faster,” said Corona del Mar boys basketball coach Ryan Schachter. “But John, he has it all. Size and speed, competitiveness and athleticism.”

“I’ve been coaching football since 1993,” said Corona del Mar football head coach Dan O’Shea. “John is the single-most relentless competitor I’ve ever coached in high school football.”

Humphreys’ skills and his competitive fire earned him MVP status in the Sunset Conference in football and basketball and placed him on All-Orange County teams in both sports.

And Humphreys is the Register’s Male Outstanding Competitor of the Year for 2018-19.

In football he was second in Orange County in receptions with a school-record 103. His 1,783 receiving yards and 28 receiving touchdowns also set school records as the Sea Kings went 11-2-1 and advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 championship game.

He was a first-team All-County selection and he already is Corona del Mar’s career leader in receptions (176), receiving yardage (3,117) and receiving touchdowns (46).


Corona del Mar receiver John Humphreys hauls in a touchdown pass over Yorba Linda’s Ricky Lane in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 4 football playoffs at Newport Harbor High on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

Humphreys led the Corona del Mar basketball team in scoring (14.8 points a game) and rebounds (6.3). Although he missed several early-season basketball games because the Sea Kings football team advanced to the finals, Humphreys still was second on the basketball team in points scored (355) and total rebounds (150) as Corona del Mar finished 18-10 overall. He was a co-MVP in the Sunset Conference’s Surf League and was fifth-team All-County.

Football is the sport of his future. He committed to Stanford, where his mother, Wendy, was a three-time All-American volleyball player and where his father, Brad, was an all-conference defensive back. One of his sisters, Kelsey, played volleyball at Stanford and another sister, Ashley, plays the sport at USC.

His older brother Ben, who was a football standout at Mater Dei, this past fall finished his college football days at Duke where he was a starter for 47 games.

Humphreys’ favorite part of his junior year was in football.

“The playoff run we made was pretty memorable, with all my guys,” Humphreys said. “It would have been a lot sweeter if we won (the Sea Kings lost to Grace Brethren of Simi Valley in the Division 4 final). The game that was the highlight, though, was the San Clemente game with that crazy ending.”

Corona del Mar trailed San Clemente by five points in the final minute. The Sea Kings recovered a San Clemente fumble and went 41 yards on three plays including a touchdown pass from Ethan Garbers to Bradley Schlom for a 21-20 win.

Humphreys might not play basketball for CdM his senior year. Schachter, the basketball coach, of course hopes Humphreys continues playing basketball.

“There’s not too many like him,” Schachter said.

And the football coach agrees.

“You will not find a student-athlete with a better work ethic,” O’Shea said. “John has a natural talent for leadership.”

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Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson is the Register’s Female Outstanding Competitor

MISSION VIEJO – Kyliegh Wilkerson offered two special intentions when she prayed before going to sleep each Friday night in the spring.

The Trabuco Hills senior prayed for strength at her track and field meet on Saturday and for health for her family, including her father, Clark, who is waiting for a kidney transplant.

  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. Wilkerson was a two-sport stand out in Track and Field with the Discus and in Basketball. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. Wilkerson was a two-sport stand out in Track and Field with the Discus and in Basketball. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, right, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. She is photographed with her older sister, Haliegh Wilkerson, 21, left, who attends Hope International University in Fullerton. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. Wilkerson was a two-sport stand out in Track and Field with the Discus and in Basketball. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. Wilkerson was a two-sport stand out in Track and Field with the Discus and in Basketball. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. Wilkerson was a two-sport stand out in Track and Field with the Discus and in Basketball. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. Wilkerson was a two-sport stand out in Track and Field with the Discus and in Basketball. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. Wilkerson was a two-sport stand out in Track and Field with the Discus and in Basketball. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trabuco Hills’ Kyliegh Wilkerson, is The Register’s Outstanding Competitor for 2018-2019. Wilkerson was a two-sport stand out in Track and Field with the Discus and in Basketball. Photographed on Friday May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trabuco Hill’s Kyleigh Wilkerson competes in the girls discus during the finals of the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Buchanan High School campus on Saturday, June 2, 2018 in Clovis, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

  • Kyliegh Wilkerson of Trabuco Hills competes in the Girls Varsity Discus Throw during the CIF State Track and Field meet at Buchanan High School on Friday, May 24, 2019 in Clovis, California. (Photo by Libby Cline Birmingham, Contributing Photographer)

  • Kyliegh Wilkerson of Trabuco Hills competes in the Girls Varsity Discus Throw during the CIF State Track and Field meet at Buchanan High School on Friday, May 24, 2019 in Clovis, California. (Photo by Libby Cline Birmingham, Contributing Photographer)

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“He is on dialysis,” Wilkerson said. “He represents motivation (to me). Coaching. Hard work. Strength. … I saw what he went through and it motivated me do better and go to sports.”

And pursue sports she has. Wilkerson not only played but excelled in varsity basketball, softball and track and field all four years at Trabuco Hills.

She developed into an Orange County and CIF-SS Division 1 champion in the discus. And on several occasions, she competed in track and softball on the same day.

For her efforts, the Cal State Fullerton-bound thrower is the Register’s Female Outstanding Competitor for her excellence as a multi-sport athlete and in the classroom.

“She’s that type of athlete that everybody wishes they could have,” Trabuco Hills boys track coach J.T. Ayers said. “She works extremely hard.”

For the fourth consecutive spring, the 5-foot-7 Wilkerson balanced throwing the discus and shot put while playing multiple positions in softball.

On one marathon Saturday late in March, she threw at the Trabuco Hills Invitational in the early morning. She then started a softball doubleheader against visiting Newport Harbor and returned to track between innings for a throw in the finals.

She competed in track again when softball was over.

“Lots of adrenaline in my body (that day),” said Wilkerson, who won the discus at the CIF Division 1 finals as a junior and holds the school record with a toss of 147 feet, 7 inches. “I did 7 (a.m.) to 7 (p.m.) … (but) I love it. It entertains me.

“If I do good, I’m ‘Yes! See, I can do all (these sports) and I still do good.’ “

But as impressive as that Saturday was for Wilkerson, it wasn’t an exception. Throughout her high school career, she often donned a track jersey and softball pants while throwing discus and playing softball on the same day.

“If you see pictures of me (from high school), it’s usually me in a track top and then my softball pants,” she said with a soft laugh. “With softball and track being the same season, it was hard going from practice for softball and then going straight over to track practice or having a softball game and then going to a track meet.”

In mid-April, Trabuco Hills’ softball team pulled one of the biggest upsets of regular season, edging highly-ranked Santa Margarita 3-2. Wilkerson pitched five innings to earn the victory.

Two days earlier, she captured the discus title at the Orange County Championships.

Wilkerson capped her spring by finishing third in the discus at the CIF-SS Division 1 championships and advancing to the CIF State meet for the second consecutive year.

She accomplished it all after playing for the basketball team in the winter and maintaining her 3.5 grade-point average.

“She’s an amazing athlete,” said Chris Watkins, Wilkerson’s former coach at Trabuco Hills who asked her to join to track as a freshman. “There was never a question of quitting any of the sports. She made it work.”

For Wilkerson, balancing multiple sports in the age of specialization felt second nature.

She grew up playing soccer and softball in the same season. Her older sister, Haliegh, 21, played basketball and softball at Trabuco Hills and then pulled the double at Saddleback College.

The girls, who shared a room and jewelry growing up, also competed against each other.

“We always are competing in something,” said Haliegh, who now plays softball at Hope International.

Both girls grew up playing basketball for their father, Clark Wilkerson, a former assistant coach under Jack Single with the Saddleback College and Santa Ana College women. He also coached girls varsity basketball and freshmen boys basketball at Trabuco Hills.

Clark, who has battled health issues for years, nearly died when Wilkerson was in the seventh grade. The girls and their mother, Cathy, vividly remember the scare but also draw inspiration from Clark’s fight.

He said his daughters inspire him.

“They’ve been right by my side,” Clark said.

Wilkerson wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My family is strong,” she said.

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Newport Harbor’s Ike Love is the Orange County boys water polo player of the year

  • Ike Love, of Newport Harbor High School, was selected the OC Register’s All-County Boys Water Polo player of the year in Newport Beach, CA, on Tuesday, Dec 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ike Love, of Newport Harbor High School, was selected the OC Register’s All-County Boys Water Polo player of the year in Newport Beach, CA, on Tuesday, Dec 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • The Orange County Register’s All-County Boys Water Polo Team; Guillermo Ocasio, of Servite High School, left, Ike Love, of Newport Harbor High School, Makoto Kenney, of Newport Harbor High School, Warren Loth, of Mater Dei High School, Tanner Pulice, of Corona del Mar High School, Blake Jackson, of Newport Harbor High School, and coach of the year Ross Sinclair, of Newport Harbor High, in Newport Beach, CA, on Tuesday, Dec 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ike Love, of Newport Harbor High School, was selected the OC Register’s All-County Boys Water Polo player of the year in Newport Beach, CA, on Tuesday, Dec 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ike Love, of Newport Harbor High School, was selected the OC Register’s All-County Boys Water Polo player of the year in Newport Beach, CA, on Tuesday, Dec 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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NEWPORT BEACH – When Newport Harbor’s boys water polo team played its best, Ike Love dominated the vital center position to boost the Sailors on multiple fronts.

In 2018, that happened a lot.

The 6-foot-7, 250-pound junior created havoc for opposing teams with his inside scoring but he also attracted extra attention from defenses, opening outside shooting opportunities for teammates.

Newport Harbor had just the right players to capitalize. The insider-outside combination was a major reason the Sailors continued their revival.

For his efforts, Love is The Register’s player of the year.

“He’s 100 percent deserving of the award,” Newport Harbor coach Ross Sinclair said. “He was easily our most consistent player and obviously he improved so much … When we were at our best, he was one of those guys who led the charge and he allowed us to be really successful.”

Love helped Newport Harbor (32-2) reach its first CIF-SS Division 1 final since 2009 and capture CIF State SoCal Division 1 and Surf League championships.

Thanks to his improved quickness and shooting skills, he led Orange County’s top-ranked team in scoring with 85 goals and earned 78 exclusions to create numerous power-play chances.

But Love’s contributions extended beyond individual statistics to areas that don’t show up in box scores.

His presence at 2 meters often drew attention away from perimeter players and allowed sharp-shooters Makoto Kenney (68 goals), Jack White (68 goals), Tommy Kennedy (47 goals) and Makana Sanita (47 goals) to produce from the perimeter.

The inside-outside combination helped Newport Harbor win 3 of 5 matches against eventual CIF-SS Division 1 champion Harvard-Westlake, including one for its first South Coast Tournament title since 2007.

“The killing blow that Newport had was that they had such a dominating center,” said Harvard-Westlake senior Ryan Neapole, the SCNG SoCal player of the year. “If you tried to take that away they had insanely good shooters from the perimeter. So it’s like, ‘What do you do? Drop off them and let them shoot from 5 meters or press and let Ike shoot from 2 meters.’ It was really hard.”

Love didn’t mind which strategy opponents tried. The Surf League MVP and All-CIF selection felt a strong connection with his teammates and just wanted to win.

“I’m so happy when my teammates score,” Love said. “I love working for my team. This team is just great. This year, the level of the dedication between all of us and the coach was unbelievable.”

A former travel basketball player, Love credits his rise to Sinclair and the U.S. Olympic Development Program. He said Sinclair helped him improve on defense, an area that remains a focus in his progression.

But for a player who discovered water polo while swimming so he could join Junior Guards, Love has already come a long way. He is the first player from his family to play water polo.

His father, Barry, is a veterinarian and his mother, Lesley, was recruited to play soccer at Cal but became a collegiate rower.

Love is now leading the charge not only for the Sailors but his sister, Alex, a freshman on the girls water polo team at Newport Harbor.

“This year we truly put Newport back up to where it’s been historically and hopefully we continue that next year,” he said.

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Orange County boys soccer coach of the year: University’s Martin Wallwork

  • The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Coach Martin Wallwork-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia.

    The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Coach Martin Wallwork-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia.

  • Martin Wallwork of University is the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer coach of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Martin Wallwork of University is the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer coach of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Garrett Garcia of Valencia is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Garrett Garcia of Valencia is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Rene Martinez of La Habra is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Rene Martinez of La Habra is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Zach Howard of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Zach Howard of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Nick Cirrito of Mater Dei is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Nick Cirrito of Mater Dei is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sebastian Hertel of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team and the player of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Sebastian Hertel of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team and the player of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Amaury Maldonado of Sunny Hills is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Amaury Maldonado of Sunny Hills is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sebastian Hertel of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team and player of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Sebastian Hertel of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team and player of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Pedro Palmaka of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Pedro Palmaka of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Quinn Mathews of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Quinn Mathews of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Isaias Sanchez of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Isaias Sanchez of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jaden Slusiewicz of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Jaden Slusiewicz of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jimmy Choi of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Jimmy Choi of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

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Four years ago, University boys soccer coach Martin Wallwork made a promise to the Trojans’ parents and players: If they were patient and gave him a chance, he would develop a winning culture in the program.

Wallwork was true to his word.

The Trojans made an unprecedented run through the postseason this year. With a 2-0 victory against Villa Park in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title match, the Trojans earned the first boys soccer title in school history.

“I told them that I would deliver a championship, and I am glad they did win it because they deserved it,” Wallwork said. “Even last year, I thought we were the best team out there, but they took the hurt of losing on a golden goal in the quarterfinals and ran with it (this season).”

The Trojans finished the season ranked 42nd in the nation and 13th in the state by MaxPreps.com.

University was one of the most balanced teams around. The Trojans had a high-powered offense – with scoring threats all over the field they averaged 2.7 goals per game – and a shut-down defense that recorded 18 shutouts.

The Trojans conceded only 10 goals all season.

“Defensively we were solid as a unit,” Wallwork said. “But with Pedro (Palmaka) and Sebastian (Hertel) up top and Lee (McEligot) on the right, we defended from the front and didn’t leave many spaces.

“Everybody dug in and was prepared to do the dirty work. It wasn’t about the goals that we were scoring. It takes a team to have that kind of defensive record.”

DID YOU SEE THIS?
2017-18 All-County boys soccer teams

The Orange County Register's All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia.(Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)
The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia.<br />(Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

 

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Orange County boys soccer athlete of the year: University’s Sebastian Hertel

  • Sebastian Hertel of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team and the player of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Sebastian Hertel of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team and the player of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Coach Martin Wallwork-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia.

    The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Coach Martin Wallwork-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia.

  • Martin Wallwork of University is the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer coach of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Martin Wallwork of University is the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer coach of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Garrett Garcia of Valencia is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Garrett Garcia of Valencia is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Rene Martinez of La Habra is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Rene Martinez of La Habra is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Zach Howard of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Zach Howard of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sebastian Hertel of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team and player of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Sebastian Hertel of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team and player of the year. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Pedro Palmaka of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Pedro Palmaka of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Amaury Maldonado of Sunny Hills is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Amaury Maldonado of Sunny Hills is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jimmy Choi of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Jimmy Choi of University is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    The Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team, L-R bottom; Sebastian Hertel-University, Isaias Sanchez-Aliso Niguel, Jimmy Choi-University, Jaden Slusiewicz-Aliso Niguel, Amaury Maldonado-Sunny Hills, TOP; Quinn Mathews-Aliso Niguel, Nick Cirrito-Mater Dei, Zach Howard-University, Pedro Palmaka-University, Rene Martinez-La Habra and Garrett Garcia-Valencia. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Quinn Mathews of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Quinn Mathews of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jaden Slusiewicz of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Jaden Slusiewicz of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Isaias Sanchez of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Isaias Sanchez of Aliso Niguel is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Nick Cirrito of Mater Dei is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

    Nick Cirrito of Mater Dei is part of the Orange County Register’s All-County boys soccer team. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)

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University junior forward Sebastian Hertel was already battered and bruised when his leg smashed into the foot of a La Habra defender during a game in the CIF Southern California Regional championships.

Hertel’s ankle quickly swelled and it was clear that he was in pain, but he refused to leave the game.

He wound up playing almost every minute of the game, which went to overtime, and he singlehandedly led the Trojans to a 2-1 victory, scoring one goal and assisting on the game winner.

For efforts like that one throughout the 2017-18 season, Hertel has been selected by the Register as the Orange County boys soccer player of the year.

Hertel was also the Pacific Coast League offensive MVP and the CIF-SS Division 3 player of the year for his role in leading the Trojans to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title, the first in the school’s history.

“He does it all,” University coach Martin Wallwork said. “He is the CIF player of the year for a reason. He is the man. He was the center of everything for us.”

“We had talent all over the field, but you still need people to pick you up when it is not going as you expect and add that X factor. He is that X factor.”

Wallwork moved Hertel out left this season to give him more space to work with, and that combined with his speed and newfound strength transformed the way the Trojans played. Hertel led the team with 37 points with a team-high 15 goals and seven assists. He had five multiple-goal games this season.

“I do like to score goals,” Hertel said. “But as a winger, it (providing assists) is what I am supposed to do, getting to the line and crossing it in. It felt good to get both goals and assists.”

There was one goal, he said, from this season that he will always remember. It came in the team’s second game against league rival Corona del Mar. He got a through ball down the line, cut around one defender and fired a shot to the back post for the winner in a 2-0 victory. That win helped the Trojans clinch the Pacific Coast League championship and the No. 1 seed in the CIF-SS Division 3 bracket.

Wallwork called it one of the most important goals in the history of the program because “that is when the belief started that this is for real.”

During the postseason, Hertel scored three goals and added eight assists.

“This is bigger than anything in club soccer because it is for the school,” he said. “It is an awesome feeling. This was huge for us. We got to hang the first (boys soccer) banner in the gym, which will be there forever. It is a big deal.”

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