SPORT NOTES: Tough schedule underlying Cougars’ title hopes … Lady Cougars notch first league win … Baseball’s Alumni game set for Feb. 2 … Mandella has saddled two winners in this year’s Santa Anita meeting.

A three-way tie for first place at 3-1 between Beaumont, Hemet and Hemet Tahquitz was likely to be cracked this week. The Cougars (6-10-3) had fourth place Perris Citrus Hill (8-8-2, 2-2) and Hemet (12-5-3) on their boys’ soccer schedule.

Beaumont pulled off a 2-0 win over Tahquitz last week and, two days later, beat Hemet West Valley, 4-1.

The team’s top scorer, Andres Murillo, scored again last week. On the back end, second-year goalkeeper Jalil Renteria helped account for the lone goal over two matches.

“He was our most consistent player last year,” said Beaumont coach Barry Steele, “and is our captain this year, along with Eric Luevano.”

The Cougars’ back line is, he said, “the heart of our team.”

Fourth-year starter Robert Valdez, along with fellow senior, Alex Hernandez, a three-year starter, headline the defensive fronting Renteria.

Third to Citrus Hill and San Jacinto last season, Beaumont is trying to crack through for another CIF playoff run that took the Cougars through the quarterfinals — wins over Elsinore and Temecula Great Oak — before losing to Baldwin Park Sierra Vista.

This year’s hopes were high. Steele said, “I purposely set up a brutal pre-season schedule, but it is really paying dividends now.”

A glance at the Cougars’ murderous schedule reveals a 2-6-2 mark against such teams as third-ranked (Div. 4) Vista Murrieta (15-2), No. 5 (Div. 4) Moreno Valley Valley View (9-2-2), second-ranked (Div. 2) Riverside Arlington (17-1), Bloomington (10-6-2), sixth-ranked (Div. 3) Redlands (12-3-3), eighth-ranked (Div. 3) La Quinta (10-5-3), San Bernardino Arroyo Valley (9-5-4), Pomona Garey (11-5-1) and Alta Loma (11-5-2).

Then there was back-to-back CIF runners-up San Bernardino Indian Springs (7-7-3), which reached last year’s SoCal Regional finals last season. The Coyotes beat Beaumont, 1-0.

The wins came against Arroyo Valley and Garey, while pulling out draws against La Quinta and Valley View.

Said Steele: “With a little luck and some very consistent play, we have an outside chance to win the Mountain Pass League.”

* * *

Banning picked up its first win of the season, 4-2, over Twentynine Palms last week, ending a string of bad losses.

Seventh place in the Desert Valley League, CIF Southern Section power Thermal Desert Mirage (10-7, 7-1) held first place over city rival Coachella Valley (7-6-3, 5-1-2), Desert Hot Springs (9-3-4, 5-2-1) and Cathedral City (11-2-1, 5-2-1).

GIRL’S PREP SOCCER

Awaiting that elusive first win in Mountain Pass League girls’ soccer play, Beaumont High pulled off a 2-0 win over Hemet West Valley last week.

While senior goalkeeper Jenna Oldenburg racked up 10 saves against the Lady Mustangs’ shots, Beaumont countered with a pair of first half goals to win.

Kayla Oldenburg, who scored the second goal, set up Hailey Jones’ goal that gave the Lady Cougars a 1-0 lead. Oldenburg’s goal came off a feed from Catalina Berrera.

Entering this week’s play, fourth place Beaumont (5-11-2, 1-3) was chasing San Jacinto (14-1-1, 4-0), Hemet (13-2-4, 3-1) and Hemet Tahquitz (8-4-2, 2-1-1) for a league title.

Beaumont, runner-up last season and league champions in 2017, had Hemet on its schedule this week.

PREP BASEBALL

Beaumont High School’s alumni game, set for Saturday, Feb. 2 at 1 p.m., has been an even draw dating back to 2016.

Cougars’ coach Robert Sheehan said Alumni infield drills are set for 12:45, adding that any past Beaumont player wishing to play to “please contact any alumni players for this event.”

The Cougars’ Alumni beat the 2016 Varsity while last year’s Varsity beat the Alumni. The game was rained out in 2017.

Beaumont’s freshmen team will take on its JV squad at 10 a.m.

Both events will be held on Beaumont’s Varsity field.

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