The Central Coast Section soccer playoffs kicks off this weekend. Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

Aptos High was awarded a home game for this upcoming weekend’s quarterfinals round of the Central Coast Section boys soccer playoffs.

The Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League champion Mariners earned a No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 Serra High (6-3-5) out of the West Catholic Athletic League on Saturday at 11am.

Aptos coach Roberto Zuñiga said they landed right where they needed to with 43.5 CCS points. 

“We have some common rivals in that bracket that we’ve played already,” he said.

If the Mariners advance, they’ll play the winner of Saturday’s match between No. 8 Hollister (9-9-2) and top seed Westmont (11-5-4). Kickoff is slated for 1pm. 

The Mariners lost to Westmont in the Silver Division finals of the Homestead Christmas Cup in December.

The other side of the D-II bracket includes No. 7 Aragon (10-4-4) at No. 2 Menlo (14-3-3), No. 6 Fremont (10-6-3) at No. 3 Los Gatos (12-2-4). Aptos beat Los Gatos in the Homestead Christmas Cup semifinals. 

Aptos along with Harbor High in the D-IV bracket were the lone boys teams from Santa Cruz County to qualify for the postseason.

Zuñiga has some prior history playing against Serra during his first coaching stint at Aptos from 1997-2002. He is 1-1 against the Padres, including a victory in the CCS quarterfinals at Seaside High in 2001.  

“I’ll be looking at some film with the kids just to see what style they play in and how we need to approach certain situations,” Zuñiga said. “But other than that, believe it or not, we’re going to play our game.”

Zuñiga is hoping for the same type of game that helped the Mariners finish with 14-3-2 overall record and win a league championship for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

“We’ve got speed, we’ve got technical, we can finish, as well,” he said. “So it’s a matter of if a little bit of luck is on your side. If the boys are focused, I think we have a pretty good chance at home to take the victory.”

It’ll be nice for the Mariners to remain in town for the match. However, the downside is Zuñiga will need an umbrella or dress accordingly because there is a 70% chance it could rain. 

Aptos is coming off a 5-0 win against San Lorenzo Valley High that was played in the rain. Zuñiga said the players don’t play as well when they have another factor thrown in, which in this case is the weather.

A slick field can prevent players from making smooth transitions, traps or cuts when the pitch is not in optimal condition. 

“I know that it’s for both teams, but nonetheless when you have optimal conditions you can control that part,” Zuñiga said. 

At this point of the season, Zuñiga has given every speech and pep talk he could think of. He said now it’s up to the players to show how hungry they are for a CCS title. 

“Whoever wants it more is going to be moving on and if we want it that bad we will need to work hard on the pitch for 80 minutes until that whistle is blown,” he said. 

Girls soccer

Pajaro Valley High earned the No. 8 seed in the Division IV field after having to fight its way into the postseason. They will play at top seed Alvarez High (12-6-1) on Saturday at 5pm.

The Grizzlies lost, 4-2, to the Eagles earlier this season.

“We kind of already know what they’re about, so we feel like we have a good chance against them,” PV coach Kristian Flores said.

Pajaro Valley (11-5-3) punched its ticket to the playoffs following a 5-3 win over Stevenson in a CCS play-in game Tuesday afternoon.

Pajaro Valley was runner-up in the Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division, which meant they had to beat Santa Lucia Division champion Stevenson School in order to qualify for the playoffs.

Flores wants to make sure the players appreciate the moment because the opportunity is hard to come around.

“This might not be something that we get every year,” he said. “We just got to appreciate that, our hard work has been able to get us there. Now we just got to play every game like it’s our last and kind of want to keep the season going.”

Alvarez—runner-up in the PCAL Gabilan Division—isn’t a team to be taken lightly, but Flores is confident that PV will not back down, either.

“We think that this is definitely a winnable game,” Flores said. “We’ve got to respect Alvarez for what they are. It’s not by chance that they are where they are.”

SCCAL champion Aptos (15-3-2) earned the No. 7 seed in the D-II field. They will play at No. 2 Leland High (13-4-2) on Saturday at 5pm. 

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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.


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