High School Boys Soccer

EARLY RISERS

Paetow's young boys soccer program captures second straight 19-5A crown

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 3/20/21

Paetow’s boys soccer team has taken care of business since the program started varsity play in 2019. And the Panthers are in the business of winning.

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High School Boys Soccer

EARLY RISERS

Paetow's young boys soccer program captures second straight 19-5A crown

Posted

Paetow’s boys soccer team has taken care of business since the program started varsity play in 2019. And the Panthers are in the business of winning.

Junior Dominic Posada’s right-footed strike across his body from dead center with 17:01 left in the second half broke a 1-1 deadlock and awarded Paetow a 2-1 win over A&M Consolidated in their District 19-5A finale on Friday evening at Legacy Stadium as the Panthers secured their second straight district championship with the win.

Paetow (15-3-5 overall, 10-1-3 19-5A) finished with 33 points in district play, one point better than Magnolia West (10-2-2).

“We work hard every day and put 100 percent into everything,” senior Hessler Magana said. “We’ve gotten the results. First place. Two times. Since day one, being a new school, we wanted people to know what we are.

“I’d say we accomplished that.”

Truer words have rarely been spoken.

Paetow has quickly established itself as a force in Class 5A Region III boys soccer, making the playoffs all three years of varsity play with a combined total of two losses in district play over the last two seasons. The Panthers lost in the first round of the playoffs during their inaugural year of varsity in 2019. They did not get the chance to compete in the postseason last year because the pandemic canceled the high school soccer season.

“Last year was tough,” coach Vincenzo Vaccaro said. “Those kids who graduated worked really hard to earn the shot at the playoffs, and it was really sad for me to not get to see them have that opportunity. They did so well last year, and not to finish it and get to go to the playoffs, I felt for them. This year, really, is for those seniors. Even though they’re not here, we’re thinking about them.”

Vaccaro has a fun, feisty bunch. The Panthers play fast, physical and flashy, but they do so with discipline. This year’s team has an intense focus, largely because of 12 seniors.

“It’s really helped, not just because we’re older but there is the motivation to win each game,” senior David Montelongo said. “We know with COVID going on and the way things are, any game could be our last. There’s no soccer that compares to high school soccer, so we give it our all.”

Vaccaro said this year’s team is practically a carbon copy of last year’s. Younger players have stepped up to fill in for the graduated seniors; for instance, juniors Posada and Lukas Herrera were responsible for the big goals for the Panthers in their biggest game of the season Friday.

Players are hungry and eager to sustain tradition, one that was built by the seniors and continues to evolve with each season.

“These seniors were freshmen when I got them, and they came in and wanted to work,” Vaccaro said. “They put in the work and time and it’s all a credit for them. I thought if I got kids with good attitudes, we could do some special things. And I do, and we are.”

Players have bought into Vaccaro’s system. They believe in each other. They work hard. They embrace the process of building a program from scratch. And they have fun while doing so.

It makes for a dangerous club as the postseason arrives.

“This is the grand finale for a lot of us,” senior Sebastian Jaramillo said. “The chemistry is real tight and it’s exciting for us to bring another championship to this program. Now the playoffs are here and it’s our time. We didn’t get a chance to do it last year. We missed out. But this is our time to prove who we are.”

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