Mustangs’ Slattery focused on, off field

Gilroy's Taylor Slattery competes for a header with Valley Christian during their first round Central Coast Section game Wednesday.

Taylor Slattery has designs on helping Gilroy High’s girls soccer team return to the Central Coast Section playoffs this season.

If the Mustangs are to reach the postseason stage, Slattery will likely play a starring role. The senior center midfielder and four-year varsity standout brings a focus to the field that might be hard to disrupt even with the loudest of vuvuzela horns.

“I definitely want to go into each game like it’s a CCS game,” Slattery said.

Slattery recently committed to play college soccer at Utah, and she plans to sign with the Utes in February. From her did-you-see-that goals to her sterling report cards in the classroom, Slattery has given Mustangs coach Carlos Hernandez an ambassador for his program.

“Taylor’s something else,” Hernandez said. “She’s a special player. She creates opportunities, she makes the game easier for everyone else and she steps up when the team needs her the most.”

That was the case Saturday, when Slattery scored in the 25th and 76th minutes to lead a 2-0 home win over Scotts Valley. Slattery also scored late in the second half of a 2-1 loss to visiting Mountain View on Tuesday night.

Three goals in a span of two matches is an old-hat feat for Slattery, who has turned Garcia Elder Sports Complex into a house of memories.

“She’s one of the best leaders I’ve been around,” Hernandez said. “She’s a 4.0 student. The girl’s tremendous in all aspects. I know her teachers all love her, and she’s a tremendous athlete.”

Gilroy went 12-7-2 last season, suffering a 1-0 loss to Valley Christian in the first round of the CCS Division II playoffs.

The Mustangs have battled through injuries and a schedule filled with land mines to start this season 1-2-1 through Wednesday.

Mountain View won last year’s CCS Division I title. Gilroy tied Aptos, which reached last year’s CCS Division II quarterfinals, 1-1 in the season opener.

Hernandez hopes the difficult schedule will prepare his team for Monterey Bay League play.

“December’s a time we want to get better. It’s all about getting better,” he said. “Once we get to league, the girls are ready.”

Utah was drawn to Slattery for a variety of reasons, as her prowess on the soccer field is matched in the classroom.

“I’ve maintained a 4.0 throughout my high school years, so that’s definitely helped with getting looked at by colleges. They look at that, too,” she said. “I try to be a hard worker on and off the field.”

Gilroy has a young supporting cast that includes sophomores Morgan Rogers and Alexi Slattery, Taylor’s sister.

Hernandez said Taylor Slattery is a good teammate for the group to lean on.

“She pushes herself to make the game better for everyone else,” Hernandez said. “She’s just a terrific teammate, terrific girl.”

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