There are a lot of things that could have gone right for the Serra soccer team Saturday afternoon against Archbishop Mitty.
First, a victory against the Monarchs would have put the Padres in the West Catholic Athletic League driver’s seat. With one game to play, a favorable outcome in the regular season finale would have assured them at least a fair of the regular season title.
Second, the eyes of the Serra world were on Nick Schnabel, who with a goal against Mitty, would sit all alone atop the WCAL record books as the league’s single-season scoring king. It’s a record that is three decades strong.
But Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the Monarchs leaves the Padres with a bit of uncertainty on both of those fronts. With the rain punishing the players on the field, some of California’s water drought issues might have been solve — but Serra’s scoring drought through 80-plus minutes of soccer means they’ll have to wait and see.
“I was satisfied,” said Serra head coach Jeff Panos about his team’s play on Saturday. “The effort was there. I thought we had the better of the play in the second half and gave ourselves a chance. We’re a point behind Mitty in the standings so we kind of came in with the idea that we had to win, so the boys are a little disappointed it didn’t come out that way. But, it’s tough conditions to play in and both teams were kind of like, who’s going to make that first mistake. Neither team did so I thought it was a fair result.”
The wet conditions on Saturday made for tense moments throughout. Of the two teams, Mitty has the clearest and closest opportunities at goal as a couple of their shots rang off the Serra goal posts — one coming very close to crossing the Serra goal line as it ricocheted straight down.
But Serra, especially in the second half, did string together a couple of offensive attacks that struck fear in Mitty. Unfortunately, with the wind and rain being such big factors in the game, there were too many what-ifs and variables for either team to put together successful chances at goal.
“I think if it were an all-or-nothing playoff game, you would have probably seen us push up with a couple more numbers,” Panos said. “But we also have a tough game on Wednesday in which there are still some things to be decided. It’s not in our fate anymore, but we kind of had that in mind. And I think too, in conditions like this, if you don’t take care of things on defense, you’re going to get hurt really badly. So, I think our guys really stepped up.”
With one game left on the WCAL regular season schedule, Serra will face off against St. Ignatius while Mitty will battle St. Francis. A Padres’ win coupled with a Monarchs’ draw or loss pushes Serra to the regular season crown.
“In the West Catholic Athletic League, this is game 13 of 14, so if you’re not ready to play by this point of the season, you’re never going to be. So, they’re battle-tested and we’ve played so many games in the months of January and February that I think they’re now looking toward the post season and they really want to make things happen. This is a special group. I have 15 seniors and you know, I think they just keep working hard for one another.”