The Vaqueros, who finished 14-7-1 and 8-4-1 in the Western State Conference's Southern Division last season, will attempt to reach the postseason with just four returners. Once last season concluded, Mena went out and recruited talent from around the Los Angeles area to provide a foundation and stability for the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
"We will be a much better team, but we just need to stay healthy," said Mena, who lost several key starters to injuries last season. "I have plans on different pages on the notepad that allows me to look for favorable lineups on offense and defense for us.
"We need to find the right combinations and then experiment. Then we need to take care of the ball and finish our scoring opportunities."
The Vaqueros will look for scoring punch from sophomore forward Janet De La O and freshman Leslie Caniz, who competed at Los Angeles High.
Burroughs High graduate Liliana Morales, a sophomore who played for the Vaqueros last season, will anchor the midfield. Freshmen Claudia Orellana, Marcella Perez, Aralia De la Pena and Evelyn Herrarte will also see playing time in the midfield.
Orellana, who graduated from Jefferson High, said the athletes have meshed during practices and scrimmages.
"You have to interact more when you have a lot of new people," Orellana said. "That's good because you can play and learn things together.
"Right now, we need to be ready for El Camino."
The starting goalkeeper will likely be returner Idania Rosales. Hoover High graduate Cristina Reyes, who also played for the Vaqueros last season, will handle the goalkeeping responsibilities when Rosales is at sweeper.
The fullbacks will feature freshmen Viviana Martinez, Olga Aguirre and Kristina Hawkes, who graduated from Burroughs.
Mena said the lineup might be good enough to contend for a postseason appearance, provided that the Vaqueros can compete with division powers like L.A. Pierce, Santa Monica and Bakersfield colleges and College of the Canyons.
"We'll be a good team in all aspects of the game," said Mena, who was named the conference's Southern Division Coach of the Year in 2002. "Our conference will definitely be one of the hottest.
"That means we are going to have to stay better conditioned."