After struggling through the Covid spring season, the Sobrato High girls soccer team is aiming to return to the top of the Central Coast Section landscape.
The Bulldogs have had a nice five-year run, reaching the CCS Division II playoff title match in the 2016-2017 season and the Division I championship contest in the 2019-2020 season, the last time there was a full season. Coach Miguel Gutierrez is hopeful this year’s team will excel as the season goes on.
“Overall, things have been good and we’ve found our chemistry,” said Gutierrez, whose team was 0-1-3 through the first four games of the season. “We’re hoping we get at least top three for our league which would get us into the CCS playoffs. I think if we get there, we can provide competition against the top teams.”
Outside of winning, standout midfielder/defender Greenlee Kauinana said the team’s priority is to have fun and enjoy the journey. Kauinana is happy to be back after missing the spring season due to a knee injury. She recently concluded her club soccer season with MVLA-ECNL, which included their under-17 team winning a national championship last July.
Despite receiving some opportunities to play in college, Kauinana said this will be her final season of her soccer career.
“It’s sad it’s coming to an end, but I’ll leave with a lot of happy memories of course,” she said. “Sophomore year was probably one of my favorite memories and just being with the girls everyday and experiencing the whole journey together.”
Gutierrez said Kauinana earned all state honors in her sophomore season and puts together great combinations with junior midfielder Chloe Gallipeo, who is another standout returner.
“Greenlee’s ability to distribute the ball and her talent, I think that’s what we needed last year to play that beautiful soccer Sobrato is known for,” Gutierrez said.
For her part, Kauinana simply wants to score a goal this season. She certainly has the capability but her instinct is to pass the ball first rather than shoot so opportunities have been slim.
“I want to try to go forward with the ball more because I tend to go backward and keep it easy,” she said. “So I’m trying to challenge myself more to keep going forward.”
Kauinana said she’s come a long way since she was a freshman, when it was difficult to keep her composure at times playing against older girls. However, by her sophomore season, Kauinana had made some adjustments and ended up having another standout season.
“Now I’m able to stay pretty calm when I’m out there,” she said.
Gutierrez said his backline is deep with center back Kaila Sheldon and fellow seniors Sydney Mudrak and Angelica Chavez along with sophomore Chloe Brown, who possesses tremendous speed and can join the attack. Players like Chavez have improved and give Gutierrez optimism on the team’s potential.
“Angelica has developed her game and took on Greenlee’s role in the spring season,” he said.
Gallipeo is the only Sobrato player who earned Blossom Valley League Mount Hamilton Division first team all league honors in the spring season. Fellow midfielder Sydney Nguyen provides tough, reliable play, and goalkeeper Kiersta Gurney is another member from the 2019-2020 team that is back for her senior year. So far, junior Kaelyn Sullivan, sophomore Kyra Ostenberg and sophomore Brooklyn Williams have been leading the way in goals scored.
Another sophomore, Taylor Charlet, also has the potential to be a difference-maker. Sobrato went 5-8-1 in the spring and didn’t have a junior varsity team. Like a lot of programs, the Bulldogs struggled to put things together amid the return of high school sports. However, with a full season underway, Gutierrez is optimistic the team has what it takes to make a return to the playoffs.
“They are fit, young and hungry,” he said. “We have strong leadership set up and want the older girls to provide a good example to the younger girls so when they leave, the team can be successful in the future.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471, ext. 3958.