Soccer: Balers a show from start to finish

William Castellanos goes for a header during the first half of last week's match against Watsonville. Photo by Nick Lovejoy

The fast and the furious. Forget the movie franchise that spawned one too many sequels—the Jan. 26 Christopher-San Benito boys soccer match featured end-to-end action and was exhilarating from start to finish. When the final whistle blew, there was no Hollywood ending for either side.

Christopher 3, San Benito 3.

“It is soccer justice that we ended in a tie,” Haybalers coach Marco Orozco said.

In a match that had mores twists and turns than a Stephen King novel, the Cougars scored the game’s final goal in stoppage time, simply off pure determination and grit. It was a demoralizing end for the Balers, who had scored just moments earlier in the 78th minute in what looked to be the game-deciding goal.

However, in the waning moments San Benito failed to clear the ball off a scrum in the front and paid for it. Despite the tie, the Balers entered Thursday’s match against Alisal in sole possession of second place in the Monterey Bay League’s Gabilan Division with a 5-1-2 record.

Junior midfielder Abraham Arevalo led the team with two goals against Christopher, both coming off corner kicks. Displaying agility, vision and bursts of speed, Arevalo played an incredible match. He played a role in all three of the team’s goals, feathering a perfect pass to Jonathan Garcia for a score in the 57th minute.

Even though Arevalo was in tears afterward—“We had that winning mentality and it was frustrating the way it ended,” he said—San Benito showed its resiliency a day later when it edged Watsonville 1-0 on a Manny Ceja goal.

On Tuesday, San Benito edged North Monterey County, 1-0, with Isaias Zamora accounting for the lone score. Before the Christopher match, Arevalo told Orozco that he was going to score.

“I said, ‘Oh, I hope you do,’” Orozco said. “He was feeling it. … He never stops running and supporting his teammates. He has a good touch and control of the ball.”

In Ceja, the Balers have a striker who seems to come up with goals when the team needs them the most.

“Manny has scored in important games, and thanks to that we have been able to get the wins,” Orozco said. “His speed and dribbling skills have helped him score in all those games. Both Abraham and Manny are meant for great things.”

Two years ago, San Benito won the MBL’s Pacific Division to earn a berth in the Central Coast Section playoffs. However, the team fell flat playing in the tougher Gabilan Division last year. If the Balers make the playoffs this season—they need to finish in the top three in the division standings—it will be that much more rewarding.

“It would mean a lot because we’re playing in the A division,” Arevalo said. “The difference this year to last year is we’re playing as a team and not as individuals.”

Arevalo is a difference maker, as his dribbling skills and aggressiveness serve a vital role in San Benito maintaining possession of the ball for long periods of a match. Arevalo admits sometimes he lets his emotions get the best of him, but he’s trying to make good decisions and knows the team needs him to stay on the field.

Arevalo spends the off-season working on his game, either individually or with a group.

“I’ve trained with some players who play in college, and they taught me how to get bursts of speed and accelerate,” he said. “I try to go out everyday and practice to better myself. I don’t like to take days off because you’re wasting a day to improve.”

Arevalo grew up watching his dad, Jesus, play in a Sunday soccer league at Mays Middle School and Rancho San Justo.

“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Arevalo said.

Jesus rarely gets to watch his son play due to work obligations. When Jesus is in attendance at one of the team’s games, Arevalo finds soccer even more fulfilling.

“It’s very special and feels good to have family supporting you,” Abraham said.

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