Daily Journal Sports File
Gerald Ingemansson, who leads Serra in
assists this season, has give the Padres an extra boost in CCS, scoring a pair of goals.
Serra soccer coach Jeff Panos realizes it takes more than just a talented team to win a Central Coast Section title.
He fully understands a bit of luck plays into it as well.
“The CCS tournament is such a crazy thing. You can play well all year and have one bad game and it ends your year,” Panos said. “I think the stars have to align, too. … The luck of the draw weighs into it as well.”
The stars are aligning just right for the Padres so far and they are hoping to put an exclamation point on a historic year. When No. 3 Serra (16-2-4) faces No. 5 Gilroy (16-4-3) 1 p.m. at Westmont High School for the Division II championship Saturday, the Padres will become the first Serra soccer team to appear in a CCS title game.
Gilroy has scored 74 goals this season, including 30 in Monterey Bay League’s Gabilan Division where the Mustangs finished behind league champion Alisal.
“They play with Alisal, Watsonville, Alvarez — who are all good teams (in the CCS),” Panos said. “But we played a much tougher non-league schedule.”
The Padres will have to keep their eye on Gilroy’s Andre Jimenez, who has accounted for nearly 50 percent of the Mustangs’ goals with 25.
“Talking to a couple other coaches … he appears to be their spark plug,” Panos said.
Serra will counter with Nick Schnabel, who has been even more impressive, scoring 28 goals against top-caliber competition.
“I think they’re very similar to us,” Panos said of Gilroy. “They always have a fantastic team. This is very much going to be a matchup between two high-octane offenses.”
The difference between winning and losing may come down to both teams’ supporting cast and, right now, Schabel is getting a lot of help. Both Gerald Ingemansson, who leads the Padres in assists with 11, and David Tillack have scored a pair of goals in their last two games.
“David has been a surprise in that regard,” Panos said. “He’s worked hard for four years.”
While Panos believes it takes a little bit of luck to win a CCS title, he also believes team chemistry can go a long way in the Padres making some of that luck on their own.
“The team chemistry is also really great. Never underestimate that,” Panos said. “To me, [championship teams] are the ones who can get the team chemistry going in the shortest amount of time.”
That chemistry have been forged, partially, by the success the Padres have had this season. They finished second in the West Catholic Athletic League, and have spent a bulk of the season getting on the scoreboard early in games. They continued that trend during CCS, scoring in the seventh minute in a 4-2 win over Willow Glen in the quarterfinals and scoring in the sixth minute in a 3-1 win over Leigh in the semifinals.
“I think there is a lot of confidence in what we do early and it’s happened so many times there’s this belief it will happen again,” Panos said. “I think that early goal gives the defense confidence knowing they don’t have to worry about making a little mistake.”
Getting early goals also makes it easier for the Padres to come back when they have lost the lead this season.
“Coming from behind — we’ve done that four or five times this year,” Panos said, most recently when Serra fell behind 2-1 to Willow Glen in the quarterfinals. “These guys go at it when their backs are up against the wall.
“Consistent offense been the [key to our success]. We haven’t struggled to score goals early or from behind.”