Nov. 17, 2004 - The high school winter sports season in the Northwest will officially get underway Nov. 22 with the 2004 Brandon Bean Kickoff Classic sponsored by Salpointe Catholic High School.

The annual soccer tournament will feature 40 boys and girls teams from 20 Southern Arizona 4A and 5A schools. Repre-senting the Northwest will be boys and girls squads from Canyon del Oro, Marana and Mountain View. Games will begin Nov. 22 and will continue through to the finals Nov. 29 at Salpointe, 1545 E. Copper St.

"It's a nice barometer for the beginning of the year," said CDO boys head coach Padram Mahinpey of the season opening tourney.

Due to the enormity of the tournament and the amount of field space required, Mountain View will join Salpointe in hosting games. Mountain View will be the site for six games Nov. 26 between the boys and girls teams of Flowing Wells, Pueblo, Palo Verde, Cholla, Rincon and MVHS.

Soccer in the Northwest promises to produce some strong teams this season starting with 5A Southern Region favorites Mountain View boys. The Mountain Lions boys and girls teams will begin the year by playing in a bracket against Rincon, Pueblo and Flowing Wells.

Although defending champ Salpointe remains the team to beat in the 5A, the boys of Mountain View will be looking to capitalize on the success of last year's team, which advanced to the third round of the state tournament.

"The senior leadership is so strong on this team," said former Mountain View head coach Bob Bonilla, whose son Tena Bonilla is among the team leaders. The Mountain Lions went 2-1-1 in last year's Brandon Bean losing in a shootout to Buena in the quarterfinals.

On the girls' side of the ball for Mountain View, under first-year coach Rick Ellis, the Mountain Lions have post-season aspirations as well. Ellis hopes his early season conditioning will pay off for his blended team of young and old players, who have traditionally done well at the Brandon Bean but "fizzle" as the season progresses.

The girls reached the semifinals before bowing out to eventual Brandon Bean champions Catalina Foothills.

"Our philosophy this year, is we're going to beat you in the last 10 minutes of the game," said Ellis.

At CDO, which also plays in the 5A Southern Region, optimism is springing eternal for its winter sports program. Mahinpey's boys feature a strong junior class, which went 5-1 in the region last year. Revenge will be on the minds of CDO this year, who tied with Salpointe at the top of the region last season but was held out of the state tourney due to tie-breakers. The Dorados posted two wins and a tie before falling in a 7-6 shootout to Catalina Foothills in the quarter finals of last year's Brandon Bean.

Where the CDO boys are eyeing a trip to the state tournament, the girls, led by five upperclassmen, are looking to improve upon a one win season in 2003.

"It's a brand new season," said CDO girls head coach Monique Vallery. Catalina Foothills spelled the end to CDO's Brandon Bean hopes as well in 2003, this time in the quarterfinals.

The Dorados' boys and girls squads will draw Palo Verde, Cholla and Tucson in its tourney opening bracket.

This year will be the first that the Marana Tigers will be able to field varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams. The young corps of sophomores will be looking to erase the sting of missing out on the state playoffs with a late game loss to Nogales at the regional tourney. Both the Marana girls and boys squads didn't fare well at the Brandon Bean last year. Both squads finished the tourney 1-2 and failed to advance.

The Brandon Bean Classic will begin Nov. 22 and 23 at Salpointe Catholic. After a two day break, games will resume from Nov. 26 to 29.

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