Through Tuesday’s action, Abraham Arevalo had picked up just one yellow card in six games. Last season, Arevalo came close to earning a yellow card in almost every match. The San Benito High senior midfielder will be counted upon by his teammates and coach to stay poised even during the most tense situations.
Arevalo might be the Draymond Green of the Haybalers, the glue that holds the team together. Simply put, just like the Golden State Warriors need Green on the floor to be at their best, so do the Balers need Arevalo to be on the pitch for them to be successful. Arevalo, for his part, knows how valuable he is to the team and can’t make excuses this season if he lets his emotions get the best of him.
Arevalo credits Balers coach Marco Orozco for helping him in the mental aspect of the game.
“Coach Orozco has done a lot for me since last year,” Arevalo said. “He talks to me whenever I’m losing my cool or if I get nervous before a game. He always knows what to say to calm me down and makes sure I don’t lose my composure.”
San Benito is off to a 3-0-3 start, having recorded an impressive 3-0 win over Homestead and a 1-1 draw with Los Altos, two traditionally strong teams. Although Arevalo hasn’t lit up the score sheet yet—he’s been nicked up in the early going—he’s confident in due time he’ll either be assisting or scoring just like he did last season.
A playmaking midfielder, Arevalo possesses a quick initial burst when he gets possession. Arevalo plays fast, a perfect complement to the Balers’ free-flowing, possession-type ground game.
“We have to control the play by sticking to the game plan, which is a lot of passing and touches,” he said.
Depending on where he is on the field, Arevalo will look to either distribute the ball to a wing player or look to score from in close or far, as he is armed with a lethal leg that allows him to put potent shots on goal from up to 35 yards away. Arevalo can run hot at times, but it’s that same passion that fuels his play.
“He is a true leader and is always willing to sacrifice for the team,” Orozco said.
The Balers are potentially on the cusp of a special season. They’re off to their best start in recent memory, and play in the Homestead Tournament gold division championship match against Alvarez on Saturday. If San Benito ends up finishing among the top two teams in the Monterey Bay League’s Gabilan Division—arguably the best league in the Central Coast Section along with the West Catholic League—then it will be a legitimate force to win its first-ever section title.
“I believe the team this year can be special,” Arevalo said. “We’ve definitely picked up our ball movement and communication. We’re playing together more and it’s showing in the scores. We’re in our first-ever Homestead Tournament final, and it’s in the gold bracket. We’re usually in the (lower) silver bracket, so it just shows that if we put in the extra work, we’re going to have a good season. Everyone is bringing their A game, from the goalie to the defenders to the midfielders to the forwards. We’re going to fight to the very end.”
Arevalo has been impressed with fellow midfielder Jose Agredano, a junior who is playing his first year on the varsity squad. Agredano has done a marvelous job of creating scoring chances for his teammates and himself.
“Jose has tremendous speed, and his ball work is amazing,” Arevalo said. “He knows what to do under pressure.”
Forward Manny Ceja has also been lethal, finishing most of his scoring chances this season. Ceja has a goal scorer’s instinct, knowing when and where to shoot.
“Manny is always putting himself in the best position to score,” Arevalo said. “He is finishing every ball he gets.”
Arevalo said he wants to improve his speed and ball control skills so that he’ll be better equipped to play at the college level. Possessing excellent vision, Arevalo credited Orozco, former Balers coach Johnny Regalado and Ramiero Ramos—Arevalo’s club coach a couple of years ago—for helping him develop into a solid all-around player.
Despite not lacking for confidence, Arevalo admitted that he didn’t always play with the mentality that he could be a difference-maker.
“All of those coaches helped me with my confidence,” he said. “Early in my career, sometimes I would get scared with the ball and just kick it or launch it away. But as I got older, I listened to the coaches around me. They helped me to keep my cool and not get nervous, to shield the ball, look up everytime, maintain composure and to not get freaked out.”