The Pajaro Valley High girls’ soccer team is on pace for a record-setting season, led by one of the Pacific Coast Athletic League Santa Lucia Division’s deadliest scoring machines.
Grizzlies’ junior Jasmin Castillo is on pace to possibly hit the 30-goal mark this season after a remarkable nine-goal performance in last week’s game against Rancho San Juan High.
“At first I was kind of frustrated and I couldn’t really score,” Castillo said. “I know Rancho San Juan is a new school but that doesn’t mean that sophomores or freshmen can’t come in scoring five goals per game.”
Castillo, who has a team-high 25 goals, is also keeping the Grizzlies on track of winning their first league title in school history after an 11-0 win over Rancho San Juan on Jan. 21 in league action.
They currently own a 8-3-1 overall record and they sit atop of the PCAL-Santa Lucia standings at 6-1-1 this season. Castillo said she believes there’s a shot of putting up their first league title banner inside the gym.
“It’s already the second round,” she said. “Now we just have to wake up and realize this is it, this is where we have to win. I feel like the girls know it too, I can see it in them and they want to win the league.”
Senior Gali Carrillo scored the game-tying goal in the 70th minute in Monday’s league game against Monterey High.
Carrillo, who transferred from Aptos High, said she took a break last year from playing soccer. She spent a season on the J.V. team in her sophomore season but she felt discouraged after realizing she wouldn’t play on the varsity team.
This season, she took on the role as one of two team captains and she said it’s been a great experience being able to help lead the team.
“It’s kind of cool to help these girls out and lead them in a way, try to help them out. It’s different but I feel like it’s better,” Carrillo said.
Pajaro Valley coach Cesar Padilla said it’s been pretty motivating for him and the coaching staff along with the players to know they could quickly turn things around.
“They always had it, they just needed that extra motivation in order for them to do better,” Padilla said.
The first-year coach said he found instant success with his team captains. He mentioned Carrillo has brought a lot of leadership to the backfield, while Castillo supports the entire team.
“If Jasmin isn’t here then they’re disappointed,” Padilla said. “She takes a lot of leadership on the field and warm ups, everywhere.”
Castillo mentioned that Padilla has been encouraging throughout the process and has built trust with not just her but the rest of the players.
“(Padilla) lets us play our game,” she said. “He’s different from other coaches and he’s helped us a team.”
Padilla said players such as Karla Leyva and Kylie Montañez have also stepped up. But he believes it’s been a total team effort.
“Having Jas is a plus,” Padilla said.
Padilla said her star player is just about everywhere on the field, fighting for each ball and never giving up on the play.
“She keeps going 100 percent,” Padilla said.
Carrillo and Castillo have teamed up in the past playing together for PV United in 2018.
“(Castillo) and I have always bonded over soccer and bonded over just the game, being able to connect with each other and play together so well,” Carrillo said.
The Grizzlies suffered their first league loss against Pacific Grove on Jan. 2. Padilla said ever since that loss the team adjusted to what the coaches are trying to sell.
Padilla said there was some pressure coming into the season, especially with expectations of trying to turn around a program in one season.
“But I feel like with that pressure it’s also about bringing the team together,” Padilla said. “Have them feel comfortable with me and the team.”
Padilla said the players come to the coaches for help and they’ve adjusted to the style of play the coaching staff put together.
“They bought in to what we brought,” Padilla said.
Castillo said she realized they’re a young team and that they’ve had to start from the bottom to get where they are today. But she believes it was all the time spent practicing as a unit that made them build new chemistry.
“We just have to trust each other a lot in the games,” Castillo said. “As long as we have fun in the games, that’s all that matters the most.”
However, Castillo said Monday night’s game against the Toreadors was a bit frustrating and a wake up call for them as they head into the final stretch of the season.
It’s Carrillo’s first year on the team but she said she’s seen major improvement since the start of the season. She said the team began the season to have fun but over time have built a winning mentality.
“They’re being more aggressive towards the ball and wanting to win more,” Carrillo said. “We wanted to win, that’s something that became our goal after we saw our potential with how we could play with each other. Winning became our goal.”
Padilla said it’s going to depend on the players to have the mindset of a champion and having a shot at that first league title in school history.
Editor’s Note:This article will be published in the Jan. 31 edition of The Pajaronian.