There’s a chance that Serra’s Nick Schnabel could do to the Padre record books what he’s been doing to opposing defenders on the field this season: Leave them in his dust.
Nine games into the season, Schnabel has been the main weapon in what is a torrid Serra offense that is putting up over three goals a game and has the Padres near the top of the WCAL standings.
That means, with more than half a season to go, Schnabel and his 14 goals is primed to blow past the 17-goal mark — in his time as the Serra head coach, Jeff Panos said no one has scored more.
“He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached,” Panos said. “He knows exactly how to exploit the weakness of any defender that is on him. He’s a game-changer for sure.”
So far, Schnabel has changed the long-term outlook of the Serra season. With a game in hand, the Padres are making a strong push atop the WCAL standings with a couple of huge games this week — the latter against first place Archbishop Mitty.
And if his start to the season is any indication, Schnabel and the Padres should compete all the way to the end.
In two games last week, Schnabel scored four goals, including a hat trick against Sacred Heart Cathedral in a 5-2 win. He also notched a big goal in Serra’s 1-1 draw with St. Francis-Mountain View.
For his efforts, Schnabel is the San Mateo Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.
Like all great players, Schnabel has shown tremendous growth in his senior season. Always a dynamic talent, Schnabel has tapped into a deeper soccer Zen and a love for playing alongside his Serra teammates, Panos said. All this has translated into an insane 29 goals and a 7-1-1 overall record for the Padres.
“The thing that sets him apart from other great strikers is his lack of ego,” Panos said. “Nick is unique because he’s not out there for the numbers or the win and losses, so much. He’s the ultimate teammate. He loves to compete but he know that the team can’t accomplish as much without each other. He loves playing with his friends. It’s like when you were little, playing in the streets until mom or dad called you back inside.”
Schnabel began and finished the Serra scoring in a 5-2 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral to begin the week. His goal four minutes in kept the Padres and their offense true to form as they’ve been scoring goals early on in games which tend to deflate the opposition.
But, it was his final tally that was world class. Serra defender Alex Avila sent a long clearing ball out of the Padres’ defense end past midfield. Schnabel ran onto the ball, controlling it with his back to the goal and a defender on him. Schnabel scooped the ball up with his foot, juggled it three times as he made the turn to his right. He beat the defender and slotted a shot past the sliding goalkeeper and into the net for the Padres’ fifth goal of the game.
Panos said Schnabel has been scoring in all sorts of ways this season. Against St. Francis, again with a couple of defenders latched on top of him, he managed to beat a typically tough defense with a laser beam some five yards outside the penalty box. It was a goal that showed his soccer intellect and physical growth.
“We can hurt teams a multitude of ways,” Panos said. “That’s not something we had consistently last year. He sets a nice tone for us. He produces at the right time and makes everyone better.”