Soccer: The young and the restless

San Benito's Brianna Bengivengo steals the ball away from Lauren Putney of Sobrato earlier this year.

Over the past few years, the San Benito girls soccer team has been about experience and strength. But with graduation purging its roster of its greatest tools, head coach Ben Alvarez needed to come into the new year looking in a new direction.
Luckily for him, two freshmen helped changed the face of the program from strength to pure speed. Among all the talent the youngsters Brianna Bengivengo and Chace Miguel bring to the 2012 Balers, their speed is elite.
That speed has helped lead the Balers to a 4-3-3 record over the season’s first 10 games. It should only get better.
“When I found out about those kids coming into the program, I decided I would utilize that speed,” he said. “We‘re going to capitalize on the mistakes the defender makes by attacking the ball and over-committing. They have not let me down.
He continued: “They have really capitalized on the mistakes the defenders have made. I have one and another behind, and the speed has been amazing.”
The pair has flown around the soccer field, creating matchup issues each game.
“Their speed kills,” Alvarez said.
And they are only going to get better.
Bengivengo has played soccer since she was four years old, and she fell in love with the sport almost instantly.
“I don’t know, my parents started me out at T-ball and I didn’t like it,” she said, “so they switched me to soccer and I loved it.”
In soccer, Bengivengo uses her speed at the midfield position to help push the offense and keep pressure defensively. Despite her speed, though, the biggest challenge changing from club soccer to high school varsity soccer as a freshman has been its quickness.
“The players are different, but you get used to them,” she said. “It’s a little bit faster because the girls are older. So I’m trying to be a starter and push myself to be the best I can so I can make sure I’m a starter.”
Thanks to Alvarez’s reliance on her, that hard work has paid off. In 10 games, playing mostly at midfield, Bengivengo has scored two goals.
“Brianna should have more goals but she is an outstanding midfielder,” he said. “So sometimes I drop her to back so her responsibility is just to run down the line and put the ball in the middle.”
Dropping the ball in the middle of the field, usually ends up at the feet of Miguel, who has stretched opposing defenses thin.
“When we need more speed, they are the first ones I look at,” Alvarez said.
Miguel has scored three goals as a forward, but Alvarez expects that number to grow with more experience.
“I see them in the second part of the season … I see them improving,” Alvarez said. “I’m expecting at least 10-12 goals from little Chace. She is that fast and she is that aggressive.”
They just need to work on finishing they opportunities, which are plentiful, Alvarez said.
“With our freshmen and the inexperience, even though we are taking a lot of shots we aren’t finishing,” he said. “And that will be the next step. That’s what we work on, finishing.”
With Alvarez’s tutoring, there is no reason why Miguel won’t continue improving.
“It’s very fun and I like it a lot,” she said. “I expected it to be fun because I heard Ben is a really good coach. He has taught me a lot more than I ever knew. It’s amazing being on this team.”
What makes it easier, though, is each other. The two have each other as they deal with the challenge of going from local club teams to varsity soccer, Miguel said.
“Yeah, she helps me out – like all the time,” Miguel said. “It makes me feel better. It’s a team sport and it feels good to be a part of team that’s been successful for a long time. I like it all.”
The pair have created a dynamic offensive attack for the Balers, but their growth will only continue, because they are still getting over their nerves, Bengivengo said.
“I get really nervous and I get butterflies but when we start playing I’m fine. But I get butterflies,” Bengivengo said. “Maybe they’ll go away sophomore year.”
Regardless, Alvarez couldn’t be happier and more proud.
“They are coming around,” he said. “With that type of speed there is no reason for us not to score goals. I’m very happy with the way they are playing.”

Leave your comments