CORSAIR FIELD — Just two years removed from winning a state title the Santa Monica boys soccer team appears to be reliving the dream.
Samohi, the number seven seed in the playoffs, defeated Los Altos Tuesday in the second round of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division 4 playoffs to set up a home game against Laguna Hills today at Santa Monica College’s Corsair field. The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
As opposed to the 2008 title team’s offensive prowess, this version of the Vikings (15-5-3 overall, 8-1-1 in Ocean League play) is relying on its defense to advance through the postseason tournament. In two games, Samohi has allowed just one goal, a feat that Head Coach Serafin Rodriguez attributes to the stellar play of defender Daniel Hulbert.
“He is the one who runs the defense,” Rodriguez said. “He tells the team who to mark.
“He’s the one who takes responsibility for communicating on the field.”
He also said that goalkeeper Michael Freedman has been sharp the few times opposing teams have threatened to score.
“We’re very greedy about giving up goals,” Rodriguez said. “We just don’t give up goals.”
He said that trend would have to continue if his Vikings are to advance past Laguna Hills because the team has been hard pressed to take advantage of scoring opportunities.
“We’re creating a lot of opportunities,” he said. “The offense is not pushing it in.”
The offense has been struggling since the team’s primary offensive weapon, Christian Marcial, was ruled ineligible due to grades. Rodriguez said that finding players to step up hasn’t been easy. One bright spot has been the addition of Simon Carlsen. The Danish national has been with the team for just a few weeks, but Rodriguez anticipates that he’ll continue to learn the team’s offense and make contributions during the playoff run.
Aside from Hulbert and Freedman, Rodriguez said that the play of freshman Manny Serrano has been pivotal for the Vikings. He’s been starting in the midfield since Marcial left the team and has blossomed into the playmaker Rodriguez expected him to be.
“The scary thing is he’s just a freshman,” Rodriguez said. “He’s getting so much playoff experience.
“He’s doing great things for us.”