By Ray Hamill — College of the Redwoods soccer will continue to have a large local contingent of players when the Corsairs resume play this fall.
Earlier this week, six H-DNL standouts committed to play for the team, including four from the powerhouse Fortuna Huskies program.
The Fortuna to CR connection is one that has served the Corsairs well in recent years and continues to pay dividends.
“It’s a great connection for us,” CR head coach Kyle Van Dyke said. “I’ve developed a good relationship with coach (Daniel) Holmes, and I enjoy watching them play and their style of play, and it’s something I want to continue to build on.”
Fortuna seniors Oscar Avendano, Emmanuel Meraz, Angel Ornelas and Junior Cruz all committed to the Corsairs at a letter signing ceremony at CR on Monday, along with Eureka’s Josh Manson and Jesse Bravo.
“It’s a connection I want to spread throughout the community,” Van Dyke added. “To build the program to where I want it to be it needs to be locally driven.”
Van Dyke says that recruiting has been going well despite the complications of the pandemic, and that he expects to add a few of out-of-area players to the squad.
Avendano will compete for a starting spot in the center of defense, where he will be reunited with former Fortuna teammate Gio Ramirez.
“He’s a big body back there and he’s strong on the ball,” Van Dyke said of Avendano. “And he will help keep us organized back there.”
Meraz and Ornelas are both expected to play outside back, and are the latest in a long line of Fortuna defenders to make a name for themselves in the H-DNL.
The seven-time defending league champions allowed just three goals in nine games this spring and would have been crowned league champions for an eighth straight year if the league had awarded a title during the pandemic shortened season.
“Similar to Oscar, Emmanuel is a big strong back,” Van Dyke said. “That whole Fortuna back line is pretty talented. They’re a very cohesive unit, and it’s special to have a lot of them back together.”
The multi-talented Ornelas, who is also a standout in basketball and cross country, played center back for the Huskies this spring but is expected to switch back outside in college.
“I view him more as an outside back because he’s got speed,” Van Dyke said. “But it’s good to see he can shift inside and do well.
Manson also has speed to burn and also will compete for a starting spot at outside back.
“He has speed out on the wings and he can contribute both attacking and defending,” Van Dyke said. “He’s a box-to-box guy.”
Bravo, meanwhile, is expected to have an immediate impact in the center of the field and has the athleticism to fit right in at the collegiate level.
“He’s got great size and great vision,” Van Dyke said. “He definitely has the size to compete at the next level and I know he’ll be strong in the middle for us.”
Cruz will compete for a spot up front, but the versatile standout could also see playing time elsewhere.
“He’s another guy that can move around,” Van Dyke said. “And he’s another guy with good size, and he’s going to be strong up front.”
The six players will be joined at CR by another former Husky when the team gathers for summer training in July.
Van Dyke will welcome Chico Cortes to his coaching staff.
Cortes came through the Fortuna program before spending the last four seasons playing at Humboldt State.