The Tulare Union girls soccer team has won seven straight East Yosemite League championships.
Up until their past three contests, the Redskins looked like a team capable of making it eight-in-a-row.
The Redskins started the season with an impressive 8-3-3 record, but struggled in their last three matches as their EYL opener against Monache on Jan. 8 nears.
In those three matches, the Redskins lost against Chaminade, Central and Buchanan, respectively, and were outscored 17-1.
Is it time to panic for the Redskins?
Buchanan is the defending Central Section Division I champion and is 8-2-1 overall. Central is off to a 12-3 start and Chaminade is 9-1-1.
"We definitely scheduled the toughest preseason I've ever been a part of as far as the girls program goes," Tulare Union coach Marshall Webb said. "We did that to get ready for Division I competition for the playoffs. Unfortunately in our situation, if we get some injuries, we don't have the depth to compete at that level."
Webb said his team struggled with injuries to Breanne Martinho and Lynzee Gilliland, but expects both players to be back Tuesday and his team at full strength for the first time in a long time.
It is unlikely the Redskins will play anybody the caliber of those three teams in the EYL, but they will get some formidable competition, beginning with crosstown rival Tulare Western.
The Mustangs are EYL title contenders every season and this year is no different. They are 8-2-1 and feature sophomore sensation Anyssa Dominguez, who has shown she is more than capable of putting the ball into the back of the net on a consistent basis.
"It does seem to come down to that game on a yearly basis," Webb said. "It has been a great rivalry between our two programs. You can always count on it being a good game. I expect the same this year. And for the first time, I think Mission Oak will be in the mix as well."
Webb said Mission Oak is his dark horse team to make some noise in the EYL, but it also seems as if a new challenger has emerged this season.
Monache is 9-2-1 and has outscored opposing teams 42-14. The Marauders also have their own sophomore star in Naomi Hernandez, who has scored 16 goals this season.
The EYL season kicks off with a marquee matchup on Tuesday with Monache hosting Tulare Union.
"Monache is always a tough field to play on anytime for a few different reasons," Webb said. "They have a good preseason record. It is a tough one to judge because of who they have played, but we have to be prepared nonetheless."
A look at the EYL boys teams
The East Yosemite League shrunk from nine teams in 2011-12 to six teams in 2012-13.
But the top five teams are all back on the boys side of things.
And defending champion Monache looks like a team more than capable of making it back-to-back championships.
The Marauders have established themselves as the top team in Tulare County with a 10-2 record. They are led by senior Diego Casillas who already has scored 19 goals.
But it isn't going to be easy for the Marauders. The league is deep with talented teams.
Delano is off to a hot start with an 11-3-1 record, Mission Oak is 7-4-1, and Tulare Union is 8-4-1.
The Redskins have been a big surprise, considering they went 5-14-1 overall last season.
Tulare Western is 4-5-3, but is not a team that should be taken lightly. The Mustangs have proven year in and year out they are one of the top programs in the EYL.
It wouldn't be surprising to see a league champion crowned with multiple losses or draws.
WYL starts up again
The West Yosemite League season started Dec. 11 and started back up on Wednesday.
A lot can happen from now to the end of the season, but it appears that there are two frontrunners for the WYL boys title -- Golden West and El Diamante.
Nobody expects either team to run away with the league, but they have established themselves as top contenders thanks to impressive nonleague records.
The Trailblazers have gotten off to a fast start. Entering 2013, Golden West was 2-0 in the WYL and 9-2-1 overall. The Trailblazers are on an 8-game winning streak.
El Diamante entered 2013 with a 1-0 record in the WYL and a 6-3-2 overall record.
On the girls side of things, Mt. Whitney has been a very pleasant surprise. The Pioneers entered 2013 with a 2-0 WYL record and a 7-4-1 overall record. Hanford (2-0) and Lemoore (1-0) are also undefeated in league.
Defending champion Redwood (1-1, 9-4-1) suffered an early league setback, losing 2-1 to Hanford, but figures to be in contention for the league title until the very end.
Welcome to the East Sierra League
The Farmersville boys soccer team has dominated East Sierra League competition in recent years. They have done it without a real rival inside Tulare County lines.
That all changes this year with Orosi being introduced into the league. The former East Sequoia League team should provide Farmersville with a very formidable challenge to league supremacy right away.
The Cardinals are 6-2-1 this season and were co-champions of the East Sequoia League just two seasons ago.
The two teams play Jan. 18 in Orosi.
It could be the beginning of a new rivalry inside Tulare County lines.
Putting up numbers
Not all stats are reported to MaxPreps.com and not all are complete, but there are some impressive scoring numbers that are worth noting.
In just four games, Granite Hills senior Mercedez Steidley scored 12 goals.
In five games, Farmersville sophomore Stephanie Alba scored 13 goals.
In 10 games, Monache sophomore Naomi Hernandez scored 16 goals.
And in seven games that have been reported, Tulare Western sophomore Anyssa Dominguez scored 18 goals.
The goals are also being poured in on the boys side.
El Diamante junior Joey Chica scored 12 goals in seven games.
Monache senior Diego Casillas scored 19 goals in 12 games.
Mission Oak senior Justin Herrera scored 11 goals in seven games.
And Tulare Union junior Enrique Gutierrez scored 16 goals in 11 games.