In high school sports, youth often means inexperience. But don’t tell the Crossroads boys soccer team.

Boasting a talented group of freshmen who have played for years on competitive club squads, the Roadrunners are off to a hot start in 2015-16 as they prepare for conference play in their eighth season under coach Federico Bianchi.

“We are a young team, but a lot of the young players are very experienced in terms of playing a lot of soccer,” Bianchi said. “It’s a good new crop of players that has helped us raise our level. It’s been a fun first month. It’s always easier as a coach when you have more options to work with.”

Four ninth-grade students bolster a squad that hopes to make a deep run in the playoffs after falling to La Puente in a penalty-kick shootout in the first round of last year’s CIF Southern Section Division 5 bracket. Crossroads finished with a 9-3-7 record, including a 7-1-6 mark in the Gold Coast League to finish second behind Windward.

But whereas last season’s team relied heavily on current Yale men’s soccer player Lucas Kirby, who had 21 goals and six assists as a Roadrunners senior, this year’s group is more balanced and, according to Bianchi, more dangerous.

“We’re a completely different team,” he said. “Last year was last year. It’s a completely different playing style, a different mentality.”

With goalkeeper Jackson Schierbeek and defender Rudy Frayre providing senior leadership as co-captains and Jack Schoenfeld adding stability at center back, Crossroads is getting ample production from its young standouts.

Freshman midfielder Dante Perez-Mendoza scored five goals in the first four games of the year, while forward Artur Agulha, midfielder Ryan Goldberg and defender Kyle Hadfield have also made key contributions in their first high school seasons.

“Our middle school program has gradually become better and better,” Bianchi said. “They’re 14 and playing against 18-year-old men, so it’s about being able to manage that and see if they’re able to hang with that. That’s the question mark, and it’s still early in the season. So far, they’ve done a great job.”

Perez-Mendoza had both of the Roadrunners’ goals in a 2-0 victory over Culver City in the team’s Dec. 1 season opener, first scoring on a give-and-go with senior forward Henry Schwartz and putting away another goal with an assist from Agulha.

Crossroads topped El Segundo 4-2 two days later, breaking a 2-2 tie thanks to a left-footed shot by Perez-Mendoza and a clutch rebound by senior Kazu Agawa.

The offensive fireworks continued in the Roadrunners’ 7-0 shutout of Beverly Hills on Dec. 8, when Schoenfeld’s corner-kick header midway through the first half highlighted an effort that also featured goals by Schwartz, Agawa and junior Enzo Gilbert.

“It’s great to beat these schools with a lot more kids and bigger programs,” Bianchi said. “We’re very excited about that.”

Crossroads then managed a 2-2 tie against Bellflower-St. John Bosco on Dec. 10 at Santa Monica Airport Park, where Perez-Mendoza scored first on a free kick and later on a penalty kick. It was an encouraging result for the Roadrunners, who begin conference play Jan. 5 against Calabasas-Viewpoint.

“We have the potential to win league,” Bianchi said. “Personally, I think we’re the most talented team in the league. But that doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed a league title.”

jeff@www.smdp.com