By Ryan Maquiñana
Special to S.F. Examiner
The San Francisco Glens Soccer Club of USL League Two are proud to partner with the Examiner in featuring boys’ and girls’ high school soccer in The City every Sunday.
Who are the best high school soccer players in San Francisco?
With the help of local coaches, players, and media have narrowed down one of the deepest lists in years to present the finalists for the inaugural San Francisco Prep Player of the Year Awards.
Readers will have the opportunity to get involved in the outcome by logging on to sfglens.com. Online ballots will count for one-third of the vote. The remaining two-thirds of the tally will consist of votes from athletic directors, coaches and local media.
The winners, along with the inaugural All-San Francisco Boys’ and Girls’ Teams of the Season, will be announced at the conclusion of the Northern California regional finals.
BOYS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Sean Bilter, senior defender, St. Ignatius: Committed to UC Davis. The heart and soul of the Wildcat back line finished his high school career as the most decorated player in school history, with three consecutive West Catholic Athletic League titles and a more than likely second straight WCAL Defender of the Year trophy.
“Sean has been central to our team’s success the past three years. When you have someone like that anchoring the back, it just makes everyone else’s job a lot easier.” –St. Ignatius head coach Alan Downey
Francisco Dominguez, senior defender, Leadership: “Pancho” was a key cog in the Griffins’ magical run to the CIF San Francisco Section title in 2017-18 but pneumonia sidelined him for several weeks this season. He returned just in time for the close of the campaign, when Leadership faced three consecutive playoff teams (Lincoln, Jordan and Mission) and conceded just two goals.
“Francisco knows how to lead, and he does it by example. He’s not the talkative type, but he just makes every play. He should definitely be playing at the next level.” –Leadership athletic director Antonio Medina
Max Edelstein, senior midfielder/forward, University: Committed to Colgate. A playmaker who can score from anywhere on the field, Edelstein scored 24 goals and added 15 assists in 23 games. More importantly, he once again has University contending for a North Coast Section crown and beyond after the Red Devils lost several key players last season.
“It’s not easy to replace a future college All-American like Marco da Cunha in the midfield, but Max has filled the role. He can create and he can score; he does a lot for us.” –University head coach Deejae Johnson
Julio Gonzalez, senior forward, Mission: A scoring machine who has terrorized opposing defenses, Gonzalez has been hampered by a knee injury that has caused him to miss seven games. Despite playing just nine games, he has notched 13 goals and led the Bears back to the CIF-SF final, while still working two jobs to support his family as he remains hopeful for a college scholarship offer.
“Julio’s a difference-maker with his talent and leadership on the field. … His talent is exceptionally higher than his counterparts.” –Juan Lopez, Lowell head coach
Michael Herrera, senior midfielder, Washington: Herrera has flown under the radar but has shined when it’s mattered most, scoring game-winning goals against Mission — two weeks ago, snapping the Bears’ unbeaten streak — and on Thursday in extra time to propel the Eagles to the CIF-SF final.
“He is consistently excellent every game, makes the players around him better with his running and vision, and has come through in crucial moments. I can’t think of a player who could deserve it more.” –Washington head coach Dante Popalisky
Ian Ryan, senior midfielder, Urban: The Blues’ transition to a winter season schedule in the Bay Counties League West has been difficult, but one constant has been Ryan’s offense. With 10 goals and seven assists, he has been the driving force behind Urban’s march to the NCS playoffs.
“Everyone in our league—and outside of it—knows who [Ian] is because he is difficult to defend. Not a single player in the city comes close to having his technical abilities.” –Urban head coach Danny Cardoza
Menfil Sanchez, senior midfielder, Jordan: Sanchez has been an important player for first-year coach Jose Montenegro. After the Jaguars dropped two of their first four games in the CIF-SF, the central midfielder steadied the ship and steered Jordan toward a second-place finish in the league.
“Menfil’s skills, tenacity, and leadership have been a big part of our success.” –Jordan head coach Jose Montenegro
Eli Streicker-Hirt, senior defender, Sacred Heart Cathedral: After a rocky start to the WCAL season, first-year head coach Mike McNeill led the Fighting Irish to the CCS Division III final, and a lot of that had to do with Streicker-Hirt. As the defensive compass for S.H.C., he’s spearheaded a unit that has conceded just two goals in the last six games.
“Eli has been a leader and a rock in the back line for us. He’s someone the team knows they can depend on with his team-first mentality.” –Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach Mike McNeill
Click HERE for the girls’ finalists.
NEXT SUNDAY: Our inaugural San Francisco Boys’ and Girls’ Coach of the Year finalists.