SAMOHI — The Santa Monica High School boys’ soccer team has started the season strong, coming out of the gate winning its first three games with a combined score of 11-2.

After tying their fourth game of the season last Monday to nearby Palisades High School, the Vikings now sport a 5-0-1 record, and are looking to stay unbeaten this season.

“We took Palisades a little too easy because they are usually a weaker team for our division, but they have a fairly good squad this year,” Samohi Head Coach Serafin Rodriguez said. “And even though we failed to win, that game was played in a four-day stretch with two other games we played last week, and it’s not normal to play three games in one week. I’m definitely proud of the way the team has responded to challenges so far this season.”

The Vikings play in the six-team Ocean League along with Beverly Hills, Culver City, Morningside, Inglewood and Hawthorne high schools. Last year, Samohi won the league championship.

“We try to plan a tougher schedule for our boys during the pre-season because our league has been a little weak the past few years,” admitted Rodriguez.

“The Ocean League typically is not that strong in soccer, so we’ve had to look outside the league to test ourselves — our toughest matchup this season should be against Paramount, who were the CIF-SS Regional Champions from Division I.”

The Vikings will face Paramount High School on Tuesday, Jan. 4 before they look to dominate their Ocean league rivals once again this season, when league play begins with a match-up away at Inglewood on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

Coach Rodriguez will have a chance to test his boys before league play with the upcoming pre-Christmas tournament at South High School in Torrance, which they won in the 2007-08 season. The tournament runs the week before Christmas, with first and second round play beginning Tuesday, Dec. 22 and ending with the finals on Thursday, Dec. 24.

“The Christmas tournament at South High is a very difficult draw to win because a lot of quality teams participate, including a lot of recent state champions,” said Rodriguez.

“We open up on Tuesday morning against Aliso Niguel and will face the winner of the Culver City and West Torrance game that afternoon. We hope to make it to the finals, possibly to play against tournament favorite Santa Barbara High School.”

With a veteran roster, Coach Rodriguez hopes his team of 23 players is up to the challenges he has set before them this season.

Samohi’s roster is comprised of 17 seniors, with only six underclassmen, Rodriguez added.

“We lost three really good players before the start of the season, one who is ineligible to play at the high school level after making the U.S. National Under-16 team. But, we have plenty of talent coming off the bench and I believe the soccer program as a whole at Samo is strong and will continue to produce plenty more soccer talent for years to come.”

Fans can come cheer the Vikings on during their next match-up today against Long Beach-Poly High School at John Adams Middle School, with kick-off set for 3:30 p.m.

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