Serra tasted a West Catholic Athletic League title two years ago, and after slipping a bit last season, the Padres have started league play strong and are looking to reclaim their spot atop the league.
“We got over that hump a few years ago. Anything less than a league title is going to be a disappointment to them,” Serra coach Jeff Panos said. “[The players] made a promise to each other to put everything into this soccer team.”
The Padres (8-1-2, 3-1-2 WCAL) were unbeaten in league play until this past week when they suffered their first loss at the hands of Sacred Heart Cathedral.
“It’s really about momentum. The momentum we built in December has carried over,” Panos said. “We’re working well right now.”
Serra finished 10-9-5 last season and lost in the Central Coast Section Division I quarterfinals to Bellarmine 4-1.
Bellarmine has been a powerhouse in the WCAL for a number of years and claimed their most recent CCS championship last season.
Panos said Bellarmine, who Serra squared off against Saturday, is a game his team looks forward to each year.
“We have the potential to play them four times each year. Playing at Bellarmine is a challenge every year,” Panos said. “Bellarmine is circled on our calendar from Day One.”
Serra is with a senior-heavy team, but that also means Panos’ team is loaded with a lot of experience.
The Padres have been led by senior Chris Perla, who has a team-high 10 goals on the season.
“He’s really the guy we look to in tight games to make something happen,” Panos said.
Seniors Darren Finn and Matt Pastore have been on varsity since they were sophomores and have also been crucial for the Padres on defense.
“Our whole plan of attack was to control [the ball]. Defense is so big in the WCAL because opportunity can come few and far between,” Panos said.
But despite the early success, Serra has struggled to finish games, and Panos said that is something his team still needs to fix.
St. Ignatius trailed 1-0, but came back to tie its game late against Serra on Jan. 5.