Adrian, a 6-feet 5-inches tall goalie, played in high school at Hilltop High, then for the Nomads in the U.S. Soccer developmental system. The tall, physical keeper started out his pro career for Xolos in Tijuana.
The senior Zendejas, a veteran coach who helped cultivate his son’s nascent skills, the fruits of which he can now enjoy by spectating at Adrian’s pro games (though he is backup goalie for KC at this point), is also involved in watering and fertilizing budding soccer players at La Jolla High.
“Jelling” and “having fun” are words that come out of his mouth in talking about this winter’s edition of the boys Vikings team. Head coach Marcos Gonzales and he have brought continuity and new levels of success to the La Jolla program the past five years, evidenced by the Vikings’ CIF Division 4 title in March 2016.
“This year the players are more engaged with each other,” said Zendejas on the long-distance connection from Missouri. “It’s hard to explain. We have (several) players coming up from the JVs.
“The team is really jelling. They’re having fun.”
One of the juniors leading the way is Caleb Saul, a center back who was recently chosen as a team captain along with senior Nick Goehler, another center back. Zendejas says they will both be in the game at the same time, even though each normally is positioned at the center back position on defense.
“Caleb has come a long way, and he’s showing leadership this year,” says Zendejas.
“Both captains give a lot of leadership. They help the other players, encouraging them in practice and in other ways.”
Noah Brown, a junior right midfielder, “is looking very, very confident,” says Zendejas. “He’s been playing with a club.” That has provided him with more high-level competition to hone his skills.
The goalkeeper’s position hadn’t been set by the start of the new season. “There’s competition there,” said Zendejas. Senior Kevin Mojica, who also plays as a field player on defense, returns to vie against Thomas Davies, an underclassman.
Another returning player who will be available after his U.S. Academy commitment (CIF rules forbid playing for school and club teams at the same time) is senior Grant Wagner. “He’s going to be going to a scouting combine in Florida in coming weeks,” advised Zendejas.
Other key players include Jaxen Torbensen. “He’s a fun player to watch.” The coach repeated the assertion for emphasis.
Of the Vikings’ 4-0 season-opening win at home against Clairemont at the end of November, Brown commented, “We played very strong and are working on our chemistry as a team, as well as getting to know each other better. We hope to come out strong in our next games.”