Soccer season is in full swing here in the Valley, and coaches Alex Uribe and Julie Estabrook have high hopes of returning their teams to the top of the Los Padres League.
This year's girls squad will attempt to build on the last two phenomenal seasons of Pirates soccer. The 2002-03 season saw the team go undefeated in the regular season. Then, last season, the girls reached the CIF finals tying for the Division 4 championship.
"It's always hard coming off of such a high," said Coach Estabrook, who said that her team looked a little over exited in the first half of the season opener vs. San Luis Obispo.
SLO won the match, 2-1, with a goal in the final seconds.
"The funny thing is, the last few seasons the exact thing has happened, with San Luis getting that game-winner right at the last moment. I'm hoping it's a good omen, because the last few seasons we've lost to them we've had really great success the rest of the year," said Estabrook.
The three non-league games this week and a Buena Varsity Tournament match this weekend will be the Lady Pirates last chance to gear up for league play.
For the boys program, this seems to be a year to peak.
"We really turned it around last season and didn't look back," said assistant coach Brian Baca.
The Pirates began an unbeaten streak that tore through the rest of the regular season. Even though a semifinal opponent knocked Santa Ynez out of the CIF tournament, maintaining the regular season unbeaten streak, and retaking the LPL title should offer plenty of encouragement to improve upon last year.
The Pirates have the tools to do it, too. Seven starters return, forming an impressive core of seniors, five of which were All-Los Padres League last year.
This core, including goalkeeper Brenden Baca, Los Padres League's Defensive MVP Sean Dugan, Zac Wasserman at midfield, Scott Cha, Lucio Jimenez, and Nick Giese playing fullback, make up a very impressive senior class of starters.
Baca, who football fans might recognize as the punter and kicker for the Pirates, has started the season strong, collecting shutouts from the first three teams he faced. It took a penalty kick inside the box by a Nordhoff forward to end the streak. Good defense made sure nothing else made it into the Pirates' net, and Santa Ynez won the game, 3-1.
The boys team was supposed to be good this season. When a league champion returns seven of its starters, it is hard to do wrong.
The thing that is exiting about the 4-0 boys Pirates is how the core of senior starters has elevated the play of the entire team. Credit is likely due to Coach Uribe's continued presence as well, because the whole team is playing well.
A look over the list of scorers and assists for the Pirates shows surprising diversity. Seven different Pirates have plundered opponents' goals. Two sophomores, Edwardo Garcia and Ryan Makowski, have even gotten in on the action, and Makowski is a fullback. Junior Javier Uribe has also scored, and seems to have the knack of generating scoring chances for his teammates.
As of press time, the unbeaten streak stood at 16, with five matches to play this week.
Next week marks the beginning of league play for both SY squads. The boys begin the week at home in a non-league game with Carpinteria. The girls play at home against LPL opponents Santa Maria on Tuesday and Cabrillo on Thursday. The girls games start at 3:30 p.m. with the boys matches starting 15 minutes earlier.
The boys squad also faces Santa Maria and Cabrillo on the same days but at the opponents' schools.
Santa Maria, with the larger school size, will serve as a good indicatior of whether another dual LPL title soccer season is really possible.
Dec. 9, 2004