Aptos High freshman Lucy Korinth, middle, is one of several up-and-coming underclassmen that should have an impact for the Mariners girls' soccer team this season. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

APTOS—The Aptos High girls’ soccer team is off to a sizzling start after recording back-to-back shutouts to begin the regular season.

Ella Shoemaker, Angelique Nuñez and Lucy Korinth each scored for the Mariners in their crushing 3-0 victory over Fremont High in the team’s opener Dec. 1.

Gwen Chapman—who is one of three seniors and a team captain —believes it’s just one of the many steps in the right direction, especially playing with what’s essentially a new lineup. 

“It felt a little chaotic in the beginning but we worked together and we got it,” she said.

Chapman along with fellow team captains Catalina Ontiveros and Summer Jacob are the three lone seniors leading a roster primarily composed of juniors and sophomores with a dash of freshmen. 

Jacob said they’re still in the process of training, yet she believes they’ll be a solid unit with more time together on the pitch.

“There’s a few freshmen, even if they’re playing bigger girls, they’re not afraid to just use their strength,” she said. “I think as the season goes on, they’ll build more confidence, too. I know they’re all very good players and I just think this team has a lot of potential if people step up.”

Shoemaker, a junior, is already making an impact after she recorded a pair of goals and an assist in a 4-0 win over North Salinas in non-league action Dec. 3. 

Alexa Castañeda and Emma Ingram, both freshmen, each scored for Aptos (2-0-0), which is on pace for another stellar season. 

Last year, the Mariners finished with a 17-3-1 overall record. They were runner-up in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League with an 8-2 record behind champion Santa Cruz (15-0-2, 10-0).

Aptos saw an early exit in the Central Coast Section playoffs after a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Sacred Heart Prep in the Division II quarterfinals. 

They also lost 12 seniors to graduation including leading scorer Jazmin Castañeda, who recorded 32 goals and 25 assists for Aptos in the 2021-22 season.

“I was super nervous,” said Aptos coach Gina Castañeda after the season opener against Fremont. “The thing with Aptos is we have so much talent here, we really do.”

It will take time for the younger players to be on the same page, especially those who got bumped from the JV team. However, the third-year skipper said she’s fortunate to have an arsenal of athletes who can easily make the transition to the next level.

The biggest challenge for Castañeda this season was after she got called up by the United States Youth Soccer Association to help with the regionals in Florida.

She passed the torch to the assistant coaches, who took over the program until the head coach returned Nov. 28. 

Chapman mentioned that having a somewhat seasoned team meant less weight on the seniors’ shoulders.

“To put that on the seniors is kind of tough,” she said. “I trust our younger classmen and I think they’re going to do a lot for this season.”

The junior class includes Shoemaker, Nuñez, Ava Churchill, Kaitlyn Murphy, Malia Moreno, Peyton Westjohn, Shania Garza, Alessandra Zuniga and Summer Janeka.

The underclassmen features sophomores Anahi Macias and Isabelle Graff, and fellow freshmen teammates Korinth, Evelyn Pini, Izzie Schenone and Madison Redding.

Chapman, who was voted team captain by her peers, stepped in right away as one of the leaders. She’s been vocal on the field and takes command by telling players where to be on the pitch.

“I just want to make this team the best team possible,” she said. “I do that by giving direction, telling people where to go and all that stuff.”

Castañeda loves to hear how Chapman can give direction on the pitch when the team needs it.

“[Chapman] is the senior, she is the leader,” Castañeda said.

Jacob added that the seniors wanted to set a good example such as the upperclassmen did for them in the past. 

“It’s my senior year, so I wanted to give it my all,” she said. “I always try, my mind says if you make a mistake, which everyone will, you gotta win back that ball. That’s what really matters. Have your players’ back, fight for it and leave it all out on the field.”

Jacob, who was all over the pitch during last week’s season opener, is playing at peak performance. Her soccer IQ and strength makes her one of the best midfielders in the game, Castañeda said.   

“Summer is just a beast,” Castañeda said. “She controls the middle of the field. Her presence is enormous, she wins balls for you.”

Jacob and the rest of the Mariners squad will need to play like a “beast” once SCCAL play comes around in January.

Castañeda knows a league title won’t be handed to them, which is one of the reasons she picked a hard preseason schedule. 

The Mariners will host Watsonville in non-league action Tuesday at 7pm, followed by non-league matches at Los Altos on Thursday at 6pm and at home against Hollister on Saturday at noon.

“Not just physically but emotionally and mentally, also,” she said. “So when we go into those big games that they’re actually able to perform and not be so nervous.”  

Jacob just loves the fact that the SCCAL is very competitive with players that compete with club teams in the offseason, which makes it all that much more challenging.

Aptos will begin SCCAL play at home against Soquel on Jan. 3 at 5pm. Other teams within the league include Harbor, San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz. 

“I think we just gotta find a rhythm, work together, play hard and use our values, everything we’ve practiced and put into play,” she said. “I think we definitely have potential to win league.”

Correction: An previous edition of this story had two errors. The story stated that Alessandra Zuniga was a sophomore, which is incorrect. Zuniga is a junior this season. The story also published the name Isabell Graft, which is incorrect. The correct spelling is Isabelle Graff.

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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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