The Breakers saw their title hopes dashed last Wednesday as they recorded their first loss at home in the regular season: a heated 1-0 defeat to Oakwood. The game’s only goal came on a controversial penalty call in the 14th minute, which forced PG to fight from behind for the rest of the match. The Breakers had a multitude of chances (PG won a penalty of their own in the 60th minute when Shey Gibson was tackled in the box. However, Eric Santos’ resulting shot clanged off the underside of the crossbar), but in the end, their dominance did not bear any fruit.
On Monday, February 6th, coming into their last home game of the season, the Breakers were determined to reestablish their momentum. A victory would prove a monumental upset, as visiting Pacific Collegiate sat top of the table and defeated the Breakers 2-0 when PG travelled to Santa Cruz earlier in the season. The importance of the night was not lost to the seven seniors in the starting lineup, who were playing their last home game of their high school careers.
Full of energy, PG dominated the tempo in the opening twenty minutes. PG’s forward line of Zach Goodwin, Chris Crandell, and Jackson Schoolmeester recorded several early shots and crosses, while Eric Santos, Caelum Kim-Sanders and Nadi Nader probed the middle of the field, forcing the Pacific Collegiate defense to remain on high alert. PCS had their own range of chances, but goalkeeper Thomas Pontarolo came up big on several occasions to prevent the Pumas from scoring.
Just as it looked like the two teams would go into the break in a deadlock, the Breakers found a moment of inspiration with just four minutes left to go in the half. After a turnover in the midfield, Caelum Kim-Sanders collected the ball and dribbled down the middle of the field in miles of space. Just as it looked like Kim-Sanders might take a shot, he played a wonderful through ball to forward Jake Haney who found himself one on one with the goalkeeper. Haney made no mistake, and buried the chance to give the Breakers a 1-0 lead. On a night dedicated to the seniors, it would be the two sophomores who connected for the game’s first and only goal.
Coaches Nicholas Lackey and Marc Afifi recognized the team’s seniors with a heartfelt ceremony at halftime. The full senior profiles can be found at the end of this article.
As the second half began, PG looked for a goal that would put the game away. Several free kicks into the box very nearly led to goals, while a spectacular volley from Shey Gibson in the 70th minute skidded just inches past the post. But in the end it was the defense – captained by seniors Myles Kerchner and Lucas Melac and complemented by freshmen Sergi Rodas-Mendoza and Parker McAnally – that won the game for the Breakers. With PCS looking more threatening in the second half, the PG back line refused to break, securing a narrow 1-0 victory and the team’s second clean sheet of the season.
The final whistle elicited shouts of joy. The feeling in the locker room after the game was indescribable as the players reveled in the glory of sending their seniors off with a win.
#1 – Thomas Pontarolo
Playing Style: Pontarolo makes his presence known in goal with an aggressive playing style meant to intimidate opponents and disrupt chances. Pontarolo has worked very hard and has improved immensely over his four years on the team in order to gain the starting varsity goalkeeper spot.
Season Stats: Two clean sheets, including three impressive point blank saves against Pacific Collegiate to secure a win on senior night.
Other Activities: In the past, Pontarolo has played on the PGHS Football and Lacrosse teams, though he considers soccer to be his main sport. Pontarolo also enjoys cooking and culinary arts.
Future Plans: Pontarolo will most likely attend Colorado Mesa University to study Criminology.
#3 – Myles Kerchner (C)
Playing Style: Kerchner serves as the last line of defense for the Breakers. Fast and aggressive, Kerchner uses his speed to hold down the back line and to shut down counterattacks. On occasion, he has also been known to move up the field and chip in with an assist or two.
Season Stats: 0 goals, 1 assist. Countless game saving tackles. Two clean sheets.
Other Activities: In the past, Kerchner has played on the PGHS Lacrosse team. Kerchner also pursues a tough academic schedule.
Future Plans: Kerchner will most likely attend UC Irvine to study Criminal Justice.
#5 – Nadi Nader
Playing Style: Nader dominates the middle of the field and is the go-to guy to win headers out of the air and to stop the other team’s major playmakers. He has no fear for his own life and is without a doubt the most aggressive player on the field.
Season Stats: 0 goals, 1 assist. A collection of broken souls (and shins).
Other Activities: Nader plays on the PGHS Lacrosse team and is a black belt in Karate. He also plays clarinet in the school band and currently serves as the band’s concertmaster. Nader is also in the Academic Top 10 for the senior class.
Future Plans: Nader will most likely attend UC Los Angeles to study Civil Structural Engineering.
#7 – Lucas Melac (C)
Playing Style: Melac balances a defensive position with an offensive playing style. Although he tracks back when needed, Melac often ends up as a key contributor to the offense with his speed, his crosses and his ability to be in the right place at the right time – a skill that has allowed him to find the back of the net twice this season.
Season Stats: 2 goals and 1 assist, including the Breakers’ fastest goal of the season. 26 seconds! (Oh wait. That was an own goal. Whoops).
Other Activities: Melac enjoys skiing and has also competed in numerous Spartan Races and other fitness competitions. Melac also plays guitar and saxophone and pursues a tough academic schedule.
Future Plans: Melac will most likely attend University of Nevada Reno to study something in the realm of the sciences.
#8 – Eric Santos
Playing Style: Perhaps the team’s best technical player, Santos controls the middle of the field with stellar dribbling and a skill for picking out great passes. Santos has the capacity to consistently beat defenders with his close control, allowing him to open up space from which he can send great through balls or take the shot himself.
Season Stats: 3 goals, 1 assist. Thousands of broken ankles.
Other Activities: Santos has played on the PGHS soccer team all four years of high school and has been on the varsity team for three years – more than any of the other seniors on the team. Additionally, Santos is a strong student and excels academically.
Future Plans: Santos will most likely attend Monterey Peninsula College to enroll in the Fire Academy.
#13 – Zach Goodwin
Playing Style: Goodwin consistently uses his speed and stamina to exhaust the defense and make great runs in behind the back line. His high work rate on the wing expands the width of the game, creating more freedom for the midfielders in the center of the field. Goodwin’s crossing ability contributes extensively to the creation of chances in the box.
Season Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist. About a hundred or so crosses that Jake Haney somehow keeps missing. (Just kidding, Jake. Kind of.)
Other Activities: Goodwin is also a four year member of the PGHS Cross Country and Track teams. Additionally, Goodwin has served as the PGHS Marching Band Drumline Captain for two years running. Academically, Goodwin places in the senior class Top 10.
Future Plans: Goodwin will most likely attend Occidental College to study Diplomacy & World Affairs.
#25 – Chris Crandell
Playing Style: The big man up front. Crandell uses his size to bully players off the ball and create chances on offense. Though not the fastest, Crandell compensates with a strong physical presence and a sick chip shot.
Season Stats: No goals or assists as of yet, but he’s trucked at least five players, which is truly what counts.
Other Activities: Crandell also plays on the PGHS Football team, and has pursued Kinesiology internships through the high school’s sports medicine class.
Future Plans: Crandell will most likely attend Northern Arizona University to study Kinesiology. Crandell would also like to thank everyone in the community for supporting him in everything that he has done over the past four years as a Breaker.