CCS awaits as Gilroy wins third straight TCAL title

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Gilroy's Ariana Vera looks for a pass as she gets control of the

Like one of his players gaining seasoning during four years of
high school competition, Gilroy High girls’ soccer coach Jose
Hernandez has learned valuable lessons in each of six seasons to
refine his system for the next year.
The last few seasons, however, have required fewer adjustments
than the first three. The Mustangs locked up their third straight
Tri-County Athletic League title Friday by beating visiting Salinas
4-2 on the rain-soaked turf at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex.
GILROY – Like one of his players gaining seasoning during four years of high school competition, Gilroy High girls’ soccer coach Jose Hernandez has learned valuable lessons in each of six seasons to refine his system for the next year.

The last few seasons, however, have required fewer adjustments than the first three. The Mustangs locked up their third straight Tri-County Athletic League title Friday by beating visiting Salinas 4-2 on the rain-soaked turf at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex.

GHS junior Ariana Carillo scored a goal in the victory, as did Mustang freshmen Monique Barragan and Savannah Silacci, who scored two. Carrillo, Indra Garcia, Breanna Rose and Ariana Vera were each credited with an assist, while Madi Jo Torres recorded three saves in goal for Gilroy. The game was tied 2-all at halftime.

After going winless in league during his first season as coach, Hernandez’s program has made the Central Coast Section playoffs the last five years, which includes a guaranteed home game in the first round this season after winning league.

With a 5 p.m. match Wednesday at Alisal and a contest Friday at 3:30 p.m. at San Benito to finish the regular season, Gilroy (12-2-4 overall, 9-0-1 TCAL) is guaranteed to have a second outright TCAL title in a row after sharing the first league crown in school history with Alisal in 2007. Part of the program’s ability to continue to improve comes from never being satisfied.

“After the very first year, I was 0-10 in league. It was the most humbling experience,” Hernandez said. “From there, we haven’t won a CCS game, so that’s still the one we’re aiming for.”

Hernandez added that this year’s team has shown dramatic improvement over the course of the schedule, similar to last season, when the Mustangs had seven freshmen. This season there are three freshmen but only three seniors.

“It really just speaks volumes about the work the girls put in,” Hernandez said.

Being a newcomer to GHS, Silacci wasn’t quite sure what to make of having such success in her first year on the team. She is currently tied for third on the team with sophomore midfielder Katelyn Nebesnick with five goals.

“It’s really exciting,” Silacci said. “It’s, I don’t know, it’s pretty cool.”

Building on this season’s success to next shouldn’t be a problem, Hernandez said, as the club isn’t expecting to lose any players to Christopher High School, which opens in the fall. The Gilroy coach caught himself a moment later, though, saying he is cautiously optimistic everyone will be back.

“The second year, I learned to never count on anyone until they’re here,” he said.

Silacci, a forward, along with Barragan, a speedy central midfielder and defender, are just two of a long list of players who should make Gilroy a TCAL favorite for the next few seasons.

“I think it’s going to be better (in the future) because all the other teams, their seniors are going to be gone,” Barragan said. “So, it’s kind of going to suck for them.”

The Mustangs will be losing their own seniors as well, including its best player in forward Ariana Vera, who is tied for the team lead in goals with 10. Carillo shares that number of goals, and will be back next year.

While in seasons’ past, some Gilroy players have faded down the stretch, Hernandez is making a concerted effort to make sure everyone is fresh by the time CCS begins.

“We started going to two-hour practices (instead of three),” he said. “We’ve been trimming the amount of time, increasing the speed and flow.

“Each year we change something, and this year we’ve gone on and adjusted (practice length). We noticed, after three hours, they’re dragging.”

The next item of change on the agenda for the Mustangs will be earning a CCS victory. Their first-round opponent will be named Saturday.

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