While basketball generally gets the most notoriety, it isn’t the only popular high school winter sport.
Boys and girls soccer are also fan favorites in Kern County.
And with good reason.
Local high school soccer teams have featured a plethora of outstanding players and done extremely well in the playoffs in recent years.
Last year, the Garces boys team won the Central Section Division V championship and Southern California Division V Regional championship.
Back for the Rams this season is reigning BVarsity All-Area player of the year Ebubechukwu Ekpemogu.
The ultra-talented striker tallied 43 goals and 8 assists for Garces, which lost only two of 32 games last season.
Ekpemogu is joined up front by another highly dangerous offensive threat, Moises Cisneros, a 2018 All-Area First Team selection who had 28 goals and 18 assists a year ago.
Garces’ backline will be anchored this year by a pair of All-Area Second Team defenders, Angel Navarro and Aldo Pantoja.
The Ridgeview boys team also returns a couple of standouts in All-Area First Team players Marco Ceja and Osvaldo Navarro.
With Ceja (21 goals and 9 assists) and Navarro (20 goals 8 assists) leading the way, Ridgeview made it all the way to the Central Section Division I championship game last year.
Foothill beat Mira Monte, 2-1, in the Central Section Division IV boys championship game last year. However, the Trojans graduated their two top players.
Regardless, the Trojans, guided by 2018 BVarsity All-Area Boys Soccer Coach of the Year Ty Rose, still have plenty of talent to compete for another section title.
On the girls side of things, Arvin was the only Kern County team to win a section championship last year.
The Bears, led by freshman midfielder Citali Sanchez, downed Fresno Christian 4-2 in the D-VI title game.
Sanchez, an All-Area Second Team selection, had 13 goals and 5 assists during her rookie campaign.
The East girls team, which allowed just two goals in 10 Southeast Yosemite League games last year, returns two sophomores who were All-Area picks last year.
The Blades’ Serena Rodriguez was named the Southeast Yosemite League defensive player of the year, while teammate Laila Baamuer notched a team-high 30 points (13 goals and 4 assists).
East is 133-36 (through the 2018 season) and had a winning record every year since Marty Martinez took over as its coach in 2012.
The Blades will be trying to knock off defending league champion Highland for the SEYL title.
The Scots return senior forward Alyssa Cleveland and senior defender Kylie Lopez, a pair of All-Area performers last year.
Cleveland registered 46 points (20 goals and 6 assists) last season.
Liberty, the defending Southwest Yosemite League champions, has three returning First or Second Team All-Area players on its roster.
Senior midfielder Cynthia Flores, junior midfielder Ellie Gore and senior defender Kassadi Reece provide the Patriots with enough firepower to stand a great chance at defending their SWYL title and make another run at winning a section championship.
Last year, Liberty lost, 2-1, to Fresno-Edison in the D-II championship game.
The Patriots have dominated the SWYL since 2016, posting a 28-1-1 record in league games, while winning three straight league titles. ￼