Aptos High senior Eddie Alvarez had a team-best 22 goals for the Mariners boys' soccer team this season. (Raul Ebio/The Pajaronian)

Aptos High senior Eddie Alvarez wanted to prove this past season he was still the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League’s best returning soccer player in 2023-24.

Last year’s all-league accolades stated otherwise, but nonetheless the Mariners’ standout was a force to be reckoned with anytime he stepped on the pitch.  

The coaches within the league took note of it, which is the reason he was named the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League boys’ soccer Player of the Year for his outstanding efforts on the pitch in the 2023-24 season. 

“I really feel like I did put the work ethic and everything that I needed to do during practice, and on my own, too, when I would go shoot with my cousin,” Alvarez said. “I’m very proud of myself and I hope my family’s proud of me, too, that I got this award.”

Alvarez had a league-leading 22 goals to go along with six assists for the Mariners. Aptos coach Roberto Zúñiga was excited to see his star player earn the well deserved award. 

“The kid is very deserving, top of the leaderboard,” Zúñiga said. “He just gave it his all and he’s a team player.”

Aptos junior Nami Banks was named Defensive Player of the Year, helping the Mariners defense concede just six goals in league play. Harbor High senior Romeo Marin was awarded Offensive Player of the Year, and Soquel High junior Andrew Bucio was the Goalkeeper of the Year.

Zúñiga also collected some hardware after he was awarded Coach of the Year honors. He helped lead Aptos to a 14-3-3 overall record and capturing the SCCAL crown with an 8-1-1 record in league play.

The Mariners also qualified for the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs for a fourth straight trip to the postseason. 

In his 17th year at the helm, Zúñiga continues to strive for his goal of leading by example and having the coaching staff be as committed as the players, whether it’s practicing in the rain or showing up for film study.

“For me, this recognition by my peers means a lot,” he said. “It means that we’re doing something right at Aptos for the boys’ program, and that we have been working like a well-oiled machine for the last four years.”

Alvarez was still upset after last year’s results for all-league awards. He recorded a league-best 17 goals and four assists, putting him in prime contention to earn top honors. 

However, it was Raul Calles of Harbor High who walked away with the POY award despite having one less goal and assist than Alvarez, who was named the offensive player of the year.

During the offseason, Alvarez worked twice as hard and admitted he went into the season with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He finished coming off a strong season in the summer with his club team, PV United prior to joining Aptos for the winter. 

“I had this thought in my head where I was like, I need to do better than last year. I need to get more goals,” he said.

It started with a six-goal performance in the Mariners’ 7-1 win over Ceiba College Prep on Nov. 21, followed by four goals in a 14-0 crushing victory against Anzar High on Dec. 14. Alvarez also scored at least one goal in seven league games.

But it wasn’t just his ability to score that earned Alvarez top honors. The four-year varsity player also knew how to lead a group through the good times and the challenging ones.

“The kid has always given it his best. I think that it speaks volumes of a person,” Zúñiga said. “It takes character to just hold and wait your time on the pitch until you fully develop into the player and team captain.”

Alvarez plans to continue his soccer career at Cabrillo College with hopes of transferring to a four-year college and beyond.

“I feel like I’m ready for Cabrillo,” Alvarez said. 

Aptos seniors Esteban García, Andrew López-Rameño, Carlos Gutiérrez and junior Noah Curran—who recorded seven shutouts as the main goalkeeper this season—all earned All-SCCAL First Team honors.

The all-league second team included seniors Kaleb Plascencia and Ulises Valdéz; junior Love Granström (Jr.); and sophomore Daniel Lozano.

A trio of underclassmen in sophomores Josiah Siqueiros and David Sebastian-Killpatrick; and freshman Damián García made the honorable mention list.

“I just hope that the program does good and Aptos keeps doing what they’re doing. Keep striving for better achievements and better goals, and maybe a [Central Coast Section ring,” Alvarez said.

Individual Awards

Player of the Year:  Eduardo Álvarez (Sr.), Aptos

Offensive Player of the Year: Romeo Marin (Sr.), Harbor

Defensive Player of the Year: Nami Banks (Jr.), Aptos

Goalkeeper of the Year:  Andrew Bucio (Jr.), Soquel

Coach of the Year:  Roberto Zúñiga, Aptos

First Team 

Esteban García (Sr.), Aptos

Andrew López-Rameño (Sr.), Aptos 

Carlos Gutiérrez (Sr.), Aptos

Noah Curran (Jr.), Aptos

Jeo Linares (Sr.), Harbor

Alex Aparicio (Jr.), Harbor

Javi Calles (Jr.), Harbor

Triton Dew (Sr.), Santa Cruz

Aiden Nounnan (Sr.), San Lorenzo Valley

Esteban Gonzalez (Sr.), Soquel

Rex Denger (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Second Team

Kaleb Plascencia (Sr.), Aptos

Ulises Valdéz (Sr.), Aptos

Love Granström (Jr.), Aptos

Daniel Lozano (So.), Aptos 

Danny Garcia (So.), Harbor

Brandon Jimenez (Jr.), Harbor

Moi Hernandez (So.), Harbor

Christopher Vasquez-Vargas (Jr.), Santa Cruz

Jac Chisler (Sr.), SLV

Antonio Plaza (Jr.), Soquel

Cooper Wickum (Sr.), Scotts Valley  

Honorable Mention

Josiah Siqueiros (So.), Aptos

David Sebastian-Killpatrick (So.), Aptos

Damián García (Fr.), Aptos

Juan Lara (Sr.), Harbor

Johnny Campbell (Sr.), Harbor

Maury Martinez (Sr.), Harbor

Omar Porter y Ramirez (Sr.), Santa Cruz

Luc Stanfield (Sr.), Santa Cruz

Nicolas Aladro-Wolf (Sr.), Santa Cruz

Owen Garrahan (Sr.), SLV

Thomas Moberg (Sr.), SLV

Francisco Rocha (Sr.), SLV

Jack Leiva, Midfielder (Jr.), Soquel

David Moya (Jr.), Soquel

Kai Reyes (Jr.), Soquel

Mars Davis (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Jacob Berman (Jr.), Scotts Valley

Lukas Bloom (Jr.), Scotts Valley

Previous articleEducator, leader, friend: Willie Yahiro dies at 84
Next articleSanta Cruz Roller Derby getting back on track
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here