No one gets by former Balers standout Perez

Former San Benito High standout Victoria Perez had two terrific seasons at Hartnell College, leading the team to a playoff berth while earning JC second-team All-America honors this past season.

Of all the superlatives Hartnell College women’s soccer coach Ivan Guerrero had for her sophomore defender, Victoria Perez, two remarks stood out.
“She’s hands down the best overall player I’ve had in my four years coaching the women’s team,” Guerrero said, referring to the former San Benito High standout who earned All-West First Team and Second Team All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, becoming the first women’s soccer player in school history to earn either honor. “I never had one issue with her. It’s pretty amazing man.”
Amazing indeed. Coaches expect a lot out of their players, whether it’s running every drill with precision, showing up early to practice or staying within the team concept.
Whatever Guerrero expected of Perez, she gave an unsurpassed effort and performance in helping lead Hartnell to one of its best seasons in school history. The Panthers finished 13-6-3 overall, 9-3-1 in the Coast Conference South Division and advanced to the Northern California playoffs, where they lost in the opening round to state power Sierra of Rocklin.
“It was a great two years at Hartnell,” said Perez, who is currently weighing her options on a couple of scholarship offers from NAIA schools. “I never thought I would make All-American or receive a scholarship to play at a four-year school, and I know I’ve received a lot of help from coaches and teammates over the years.”
Strong on the ball and in the air, the mild-mannered Perez never gave an inch when it came time to compete for 50-50 balls or when a dynamic forward came her way.
“Victoria positions herself well on the field, which sometimes is hard to get from these players,” Guerrero said. “She’s fast and technical and really good in the air. I think if we put her at forward she’d be one of our leading goal scorers, too.”
Guerrero was the only junior college coach who expressed interest in Perez, who initially thought her last game of her senior year at San Benito High would be her last. However, Guerrero saw a player who could anchor his defense for two years, and he turned out to be prophetic in other ways as well.
“I told her by her second year, we would make the playoffs,” Guerrero said. “She carried us there.”
Perez started playing soccer at age 5, where it was love at first kick. She didn’t start playing competitive soccer until age 9, joining the Hollister Crush club.
“I love soccer because you can get really creative in the sport,” she said.
Perez has three siblings, including an older sister, Christiana, who was a four-year varsity player at San Benito.
“I looked up to her and actually all four of us played together in the front yard growing up,” said Perez, who has a younger brother and sister currently playing on the San Benito teams.
Hartnell’s women’s program had been in a rebuilding process up to Perez’s arrival, and her presence helped guide the Panthers to a strong 2014 season.
“She set up a good foundation for us as a program going forward and taking that next step,” Guerrero said. “We had a very talented group this year, but Victoria spearheaded that group.”

Leave your comments