LAHS boys soccer team finds its joy

While a first-place finish is out of reach, the Los Altos High boys soccer team has achieved other goals it set for this shortened season. First and foremost: Have fun.

“My goal last year was no red cards,” said Roberto Magellan, who last season was hired to coach a team that the school administration prevented from applying for the playoffs the year before due to on-field misconduct. “We didn’t win a lot of games, but we had fun – and we’ve kept that atmosphere this year. The kids are really enjoying themselves.”

Jimmy Dessouki Gavin Fairey
Samantha Zagha/Town Crier
Jimmy Dessouki, left, and Gavin Fairey celebrate a goal in Los Altos High’s win over Santa Clara earlier this month.

The Eagles also have accomplished another objective – beating rival Mountain View.

“They were really happy to beat Mountain View twice,” Magellan said. “The players really wanted to do that.”

Los Altos defeated the Spartans by scores of 3-0 and 3-1.

The Eagles entered last week with just one loss – to first-place Gunn – but suffered two more by week’s end to drop from second to third place in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division at 5-3-2. Los Altos fell 2-1 at Gunn Friday and 3-2 to visiting Los Gatos Saturday.

The Eagles wrap up what Magellan called “a weird season” this week. They were slated to visit Homestead Tuesday (after the Town Crier’s deadline) and host Palo Alto 3:30 p.m. Friday.

The season wasn’t just unusual because of its length, reduced to six weeks due to the pandemic, but also because Magellan didn’t serve as head coach. He said his other commitments – a new teaching job at Keys School in Palo Alto and his club soccer duties – initially led him to step away from the program for just this year. Once Magellan realized he could make it work, Los Altos had already promoted junior-varsity coach Gilbert Barranco to replace him this season.

“Principal (Wynne) Satterwhite kept me on as an assistant,” Magellan said. “I’m still very involved with the varsity, but I’m helping more on the JV side, which should be good for next year because I’m getting to know the players.”

When Magellan returns as varsity coach next November, the Eagles will look a lot different. Nine players will have graduated, including team captains Jimmy Dessouki, Ethan Apfelberg, Gavin Fairey and Everett Lee.

Dessouki, a forward, leads Los Altos with eight goals. Apfelberg has one goal and three assists, while fellow defender Fairey has scored twice. Goalkeeper Lee has posted one shutout, as has fellow senior Edwin Morales-Lomeli. Forward Alessandro Sisniegas, another senior standout, has notched five goals and two assists.

Rafael Ulloa, a junior, has also provided some scoring punch; he has three goals and leads the team in assists with six.

“We can score,” Magellan said. “We have some talented players.”

Combining that talent with their joy of the game has created a team environment the coach relishes.

“The team spirit is very high – the players like playing with each other,” he said, “and they leave everything on the field.”

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