For Balers, the Chace is on

Balers senior midfielder Chace Miguel has been one of the team's most consistent players the last couple of years. 

Despite graduating seven starters from a squad that won last year’s Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division championship, the San Benito High girls soccer team finds itself in a position to still finish among the top three- or four teams in the league.
The Haybalers entered the week with a 4-3-0 record in the Gabilan Division, just one point behind Gilroy for third place. It’s a credit to the coaching staff and the players that the team has been able to sustain a high level of play after losing over half of its starters from a year ago.
“I’m really excited for the development of the younger girls and really proud of the older girls who are mentoring them,” Balers coach Becky Bonner said. “Season-wise record-wise, we’re still shooting to win league.”
After going winless in the tough non-league portion of their schedule, the Balers have picked up the pace thanks in no small part to senior midfielder Chace Miguel, who distributes the ball well and is one of the main drivers of the team’s offense.
A smart, heady player, Miguel has been on the varsity team since her freshman year, where she played significant minutes in a reserve role. In the first game of her freshman season, Miguel was downright afraid to go into the game.
“When coach told me to go in, I was really scared,” Miguel said. “Just being a freshman, I thought the level of play would be that of a pro team, but once I got in, I realized I could handle things.”
Indeed, after a solid freshman campaign, Miguel has been a starter since her sophomore year, providing a steadying influence to the team. Miguel has always focused on being consistent whether it’s in practice or during a match.
Miguel said her favorite moment of the season came in the team’s 2-1 victory over Gilroy on Jan. 7, when Marisa Villegas scored from 35 yards out in the 76th minute to seal a thrilling victory.
“After Marisa scored, the atmosphere around the team was great,” Miguel said. “We came in and gave Marisa a huge hug. Gilroy has always been one of my favorite teams to play.”
For Miguel, family comes first. As a freshman, Miguel was often nervous on game days. However, her mom, Gae, soothed those nerves by messaging her daughter with bible verses.
Miguel’s older sister, Paige, a former San Benito High and Gavilan College softball standout who is now playing at William Penn University in Iowa, always gave her a hug after games.
Miguel’s dad, Joey, was a baseball standout at San Benito and Gavilan. When it comes to the things Miguel values most, family matters.
“Family is the thing I’m most grateful for in life,” she said. “We support each other, and I wouldn’t be where I am without my family.”
Miguel is particularly close with Paige, as the two regularly communicate via text, phone calls, Facetime and Snapchat.
Growing up, Miguel watched her sister flourish on the softball field; Paige put together two of the greatest seasons by a pitcher in San Benito High history before earning All-Coast Conference honors while pitching at Gavilan. Paige’s accomplishments rubbed off on Chace, who enters the final weeks of her soccer career having achieved her potential.
Although Miguel loves to score goals—who doesn’t?—she has a pass-first mentality that often results in the forwards getting great opportunities to score. Over the years, Miguel has developed a keen sense of knowing when to make the pass and finding holes in the defense.
“My role on the team is as a passer,” she said. “I try to find open spaces to get the ball to the forwards. I like to score, but most times the team’s best chance to score is when we’re passing it to our forwards.”
For the Balers, when it comes to the possibility of catching Salinas for the league championship, the “Chace” is on.

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