The Coronado High School (CHS) boys varsity soccer team is enjoying a strong season under coaches Aaron Brooks and Mike Helfand with a current 6-2 record. The 24-man roster includes 10 graduating seniors who were celebrated at Senior Night during the home game against Mission Bay High School on April 29. The 2021 seniors are (back row L to R) Rafael (Rafa) Borbon, Sam McMillen, Eli Hallal, Joshua Litrell, Connor Worth; and (front row L to R) Max Lopez, Enrique (Quique) Leon, Preston Helfand, and Caffrey Oden.
Rafael (Rafa) Borbon started playing soccer in first grade as a center back and established himself as a successful varsity player his sophomore year at CHS. Rafa’s presence on the team consistently brings positive energy and laughs. One of Rafa’s many talents includes his super-human running speed that was first discovered when he turned on his “Hot Wheels” and ripped through sprints, smoking the entire team. He is essential in receiving long throws to put the ball in play, setting the team up to score. In his post-CHS plans, Rafa will be attending college.
Co-captain Eli Hallal’s towering (6’6”) presence on the field has always been a force to be reckoned with. His soccer career started with the Coronado Youth Soccer League Micros. He played for four clubs, finding a home at the Rebels with his soccer muse Nathan Sanchez where they co-captained the team to the Far-West Regional Playoffs in 2019 and made an appearance in the National League Showcase. Eli participated in two Region 4 Olympic Development Program Camps and hopes to play soccer for the University of Chicago where he will study business economics. His most memorable CHS soccer moment was scoring both goals in the 2-1 victory against arch-rival Point Loma.
Preston Helfand has been playing soccer since he was three years old. As center or mid-forward, Preston is known as a playmaker on the pitch. He proudly claims he “Unofficially, has the most fouls per minute on the team.” Preston joins other teammates in helping establish this year’s win over Point Loma as one he will relish for years to come. After graduation, Preston plans to study business at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Enrique Leon, known as Quique, has been a CHS varsity goalkeeper since his sophomore year. Quique took to goalkeeping at an early age, and he knew it was the only position he really wanted to play by the time he was 10 years old. Known for his cat-like reflexes and spine-bending saves, Quique’s most memorable save this season was also in the famous Point Loma game when he denied a penalty kick with seconds left on the clock to maintain the 2-1 win. One of his favorite CHS soccer memories was as a sophomore when Coach Brooks put him on the field to play as a defender only for him to get a yellow card within seconds. This immediately caused Quique to be subbed out, and it sealed his position as goalkeeper for the next three years. Quique plans to study business and real estate finance at the University of Denver.
Joshua (Josh) Littrell contributes to the team as a defensive talent, playing the back line with guts and grit. Josh did not grow up in a soccer family, but according to his mother Betsy, he “found the sport on his own. He started as a preschooler and developed a big love of the game.” Josh even indulged his mom with the Mother’s Day soccer lessons she requested! She says he laughed mostly with her instead of at her. Josh notes that beating Point Loma on their own field 2-1 was definitely a highlight of his season. He plans to find his career and calling while attending the University of Redlands.
Max Lopez plays mostly midfield and contributes to the team as a player and a jokester. Max proudly points out that he scored only two goals in his four years at CHS. Max describes himself as a “different breed” and plans a career in the music industry. His most memorable CHS soccer moment was “having a private meeting with the CIF president for being too alpha to handle.”
Sam McMillen suffered an early-season injury but brought positive energy to the team from the sidelines. Sam also played club soccer and was a force in last year’s undefeated season for his nationally-ranked Rebels Club team. Throughout the pandemic, Sam was known to work out at least once, sometimes twice a day, making him look like The Hulk in his green CHS jersey this season—still fast, but mightier than ever! Sam’s most memorable CHS moment was doing lunges around the field twice before a big game: “Our legs were dead so the game didn’t go so well.” Another not-so-fun fact about Sam: “I’ve never played a full season of high school soccer because of injuries.” Sam recently underwent surgery and the team wishes him a speedy recovery. Sam plans to major in accounting at Louisiana Tech.
Caffrey Oden battled back from the injured reserve list this season. This soccer talent can do it all, having played every position on the field at some point in his high school career. After high school, Caffrey plans to spread his wings and fly to England for a year of soccer at the International Development Academy in Reading, England, playing for Hartley Wintney Football Club.
Nathan Sanchez, or just Sanchez, has been a part of the CHS winning varsity team since his freshman year. He is a three-time golden boot recipient, 2020’s most valuable player, and varsity captain for the last two seasons. His leadership on the field showcases itself in every practice and every game. Sanchez has contributed to CHS soccer success in countless ways, including once scoring all four goals in a 4-3 win over University City High School. Nathan plans to become a clinical psychologist but has not yet picked a school. He says, “It’s been an honor leading and playing alongside these boys.”
Connor Worth contributes to the team as a winger and mid-fielder. Connor has been a multi-sport athlete playing lacrosse and soccer at CHS. His quickness to the ball and cheeky moves made him a standout on the field. He plans to attend San Diego State University and major in pre-med.
CHS Boys soccer will finish their regular season at Hoover High School on May 13 but will enjoy their last home game Tuesday May 11 against Patrick Henry High School. COVID-19 precautions allow limited fans to watch from the CHS stadium, but games can be live-streamed through the NFHS network.