The future is now for the Sobrato High girls soccer team. The No. 6 seed Bulldogs (13-4-4) find themselves in the Central Coast Section Division I playoff championship match after a masterful 2-0 win over No. 7 seed Gunn on Wednesday in a semifinal contest at the Morgan Hill Soccer Complex. Sobrato plays No. 4 Mountain View (13-5-3) on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Del Mar High in the title contest.
“I think we definitely had the mindset that we were going to try to make it to the finals for CCS,” said freshman Tea Reyes, who accounted for all of the goals in the game. “And I think after this game, we have a pretty good chance at winning.”
Despite the final score, Sobrato was involved in a tough, physical and often times contentious battle with Gunn. However, Sobrato had the superior talent, with Reyes taking the spotlight in this match. She scored a goal in both halves in similar fashion. On the first goal, Reyes took a pass from Ailonnie Lorenzana, controlled it and took a dribble before chipping the ball over the Gunn goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. Reyes’ second goal was a thing of beauty, as she nailed a free kick from the left corner sideline to the opposite top corner post in second-half stoppage time to seal the outcome.
“I had the mindset to try for the top corner and get it in,” said Reyes, who leads the team with 15 goals. “It was a great feeling when it scored.”
From Hannah Pfefferlen to Katie Somavia to Hailey Freeman to Greenlee Kauinana to goalkeeper Kiersta Gurney—just to name a few—the Bulldogs have talent up and down the roster, and they’re peaking at the perfect time. They’re playing in sync, playing intelligent and playing fast. Before the season started, Bulldogs coach Miguel Gutierrez knew the team had plenty of talent—especially young talent—and it was only a matter of time before it would be contending for a CCS championship. That timeline has been accelerated with the team’s performance in the postseason.
“Our chemistry has been great since day one,” the first-year Sobrato coach said. “The girls have been pushing themselves to the limit, and they’ve been phenomenal in how they’ve worked together.”
Freeman, a junior captain, has been instrumental in helping the team maintain the team’s possession-based attack. Players like senior Rosa Nevarez typify the team’s speed, as she made tremendous runs down the seams against Gunn. And players like Lorenzana epitomize the team’s hustle, as she routinely was around the ball and made things happen. To their credit, the Titans mixed it up pretty well from a physical standpoint, and the Sobrato players knew they couldn’t retaliate even if there might have been a little extracurricular activity after a foul on in the run of play.
“We had to be physical, control the ball, be calm and play around them,” Reyes said.
Said Gutierrez: “We told the girls and warned them these girls were going to be physical and were going to try to get us out of our game a little. We had to stay clam, remember to stay positive, play our game game and don’t fall into their game.”
Gutierrez emphasized how pleased he’s been with the contributions from everyone on the roster. In the team’s 1-0 quarterfinal win over Branham, junior Erin Hage came off the bench to score the only goal of the game to deal Branham its first loss of the season. Against Gunn, sophomore Angelica Chavez played the super sub this time, coming in at the 65th minute and providing the team with great all-around play.
The players have developed physically and mentally as the season has gone on, especially Reyes, who plays club soccer with the powerhouse M.V.L.A. program along with Kauinana.
“My expectation going into this season was to get better overall as a player,” Reyes said. “I’ve definitely grown this season, and I feel my talents have expanded. … As a team, we’ve learned to play better together and communicate, and that’s definitely helping us now.”
Gutierrez has extra reason to be excited for Saturday’s final. When Gutierrez played for Gilroy High, he was part of the team that tied Serra for a co-CCS title in the 2013-2014 season. Jeff Panos, who now coaches Mountain View, coached that Serra team.
“It’ll be fun,” Gutierrez said. “I’ve seen Mountain View, and I know his style. I like where our team is at right now.”