Boys Soccer: Balers look to finish strong

Willliam Castellanos, seen here earlier in the season in a match against Salinas, has been a stalwart defender for the Balers.

After a solid start, the San Benito High boys soccer team has struggled in the top-heavy Monterey Bay League’s Gabilan Division. The Haybalers entered Thursday’s match against Alvarez with a 0-4-5 mark in division play. Despite the slow start in league, players like junior striker Jonathan Garcia expressed confidence the team could turn things around.
Garcia pointed to the squad’s two matches with Alisal, which is currently in first place and a Central Coast Section powerhouse. The Balers produced a 2-2 draw with Alisal on Jan. 12 before losing the rematch 1-0 on Feb. 4.
“I thought we possessed the ball a lot more than Alisal did (on Feb. 4),” said Garcia, who has four goals on the season. “I thought we played a better game than they did, but they took advantage of a couple of our mistakes. But it shows what we’re capable of.”
Alisal has a sizable points lead over Watsonville—another perennial section power—in the standings. Alvarez and Pajaro Valley are in third and fourth place, respectively, with San Benito in fifth and Salinas in last place. Garcia is a playmaker, capable of scoring on a moment’s notice.
“We’re trying to stay together and play more as a team,” Garcia said. “If we make mistakes, we have to come back from them.”
San Benito’s resiliency will be put to the ultimate test with only a week to go in the regular season. A playoff berth is probably out of the equation, but the Balers can still finish on a positive note by outhustling their opponents and racking up a couple of quality performances.
“I know my play has dropped a bit, and I want to get back to a pretty high level again,” Garcia said.
Garcia said teammates Luis Coronado, William Castellanos and Abraham Arevalo are all playing well. Castellanos is a freshman defender who has impressed onlookers with his poise and tenacity.
“William is not afraid of anything,” Garcia said. “He goes hard after every 50-50 ball, and usually comes out on top.”
Arevalo, a junior midfielder, has great vision and delivers superb through balls that often set up the forwards like Garcia for prime scoring opportunities. Coronado possesses tremendous quickness and agility, which allows him to beat other players for contested balls.
“Luis is a good leader,” Garcia said. “He’s pretty vocal and can get loud.”
The Balers know time is winding down on their season. In all likelihood, San Benito won’t be making the playoffs. However, Garcia said there’s still plenty to play for.
“We’re still trying to get into the playoffs,” he said. “I know we can play better, and hopefully we’ll finish the season strong.”
San Benito earned a 0-0 draw with Watsonville on Tuesday. Forty-five minutes before the contest, Garcia felt confident the team would do well despite losing to the Wildcatz 3-0 in the teams’ first contest on Jan. 14.

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