There is a good reason why San Benito High junior Edgar Barbosa plays on the right wing. Barbosa makes several strong runs in every game, a byproduct of his speed. Often times, the 5-foot-5, 115-pound Barbosa gains separation from defenders to corral a pass before shooting or delivering the ball to a teammate.
“Usually I get sent through balls and catch up to them because of my speed,” he said. “That is a strength along with my ball control.”
Barbosa is one of the dozen-plus players who have contributed to what is shaping up to be a historic season for the Haybalers, who entered Thursday’s Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division showdown against Alisal at 8-1-6 overall and 5-0-3 in league. With 18 points, the Balers are in first place, two points up on Alisal, which has played one less division game.
San Benito defeated Alisal 3-0 in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 9. As a first-year varsity member—Barbosa played forward on the junior varsity squad last season—Barbosa has been critical to the team’s success.
“He is fast, great at dribbling the ball, not selfish at all, and he has great vision,” Balers coach Marco Orozco said. “He has scored important goals, especially during the Homestead Tournament.”
Barbosa said his finest individual moment of the season came in the Homestead Tournament, as San Benito High won the top division of the prestigious tournament for the first time in school history. Barbosa had two goals during the team’s four-match run in the tourney, including a critical goal late in the second half of one contest that proved pivotal. Barbosa has made a smooth transition on the varsity after being called up for the team’s Central Coast Section playoff run last season.
“I got some time in one of the CCS games, and I got a feel for how the varsity level was going to be like,” he said. “I knew it was going to be tough because we have a lot of talent, and you have to compete everyday.”
The Balers lost only a couple of starters off a team that won the program’s first-ever playoff game, and they’ve followed that up with what statistically is their best-ever start to a season. If San Benito can overtake Alisal for the title, it would mark another first for the program—winning an A-league championship.
“That would be the biggest accomplishment we’d have so far,” he said. “To win league would mean everything. No one is taking anything for granted. We’ve been focused in practice and training to beat them since they’re our main rivals.”
If the Balers can repeat the best parts of their performance against Monterey last week—a 5-3 win—they’ll be a strong bet to win a section title.
“We scored the first two goals, but Monterey came back and we kind of struggled in the beginning of the second half,” Barbosa said. “But we turned it up in the end and got the win. We were telling ourselves not to go in too confident and to stay humble. When we play unselfishly, that’s when we’re at our best.”
In addition to his speed, Barbosa has tremendous ball control. Barbosa credits his uncle, also named Edgar, for motivating and helping him develop the skills to play at a high level.
“He advised me to play soccer,” Barbosa said. “Without him, I wouldn’t have tried out for it.”
Barbosa completed the first semester with a 4.0 GPA, a testament to his seriousness in the classroom. On the field, Barbosa has achieved at a high level, and he still hasn’t reached his peak.
“I always want to improve,” he said. “I like the challenge of always trying to get better.”